For 35 years, I enjoyed teaching in the North Allegheny School District in southwestern Pennsylvania, just north of Pittsburgh. North Allegheny is defined in so many ways by Excellence - through the talented staff, sports programs, student achievements, and numerous awards. In the past few years, The North Allegheny Foundation has created a NORTH ALLEGHENY DISTINGUISHED ALUMNI program, which honors graduates who have made a difference in the areas of: The Arts, Business, Community Service, Education, Government, Law, Medicine, Science, and Under 40 Young Alumni. The Foundation receives many nominations in all categories, and then the winner is chosen by a committee.
I was pleased to nominate a man who was never my student, although I was teaching when he was in school. Jay Adzema, owner of Adzema Phamacy, in McCandless Township, north of Pittsburgh, has been my pharmacist since 1989. Started in 1959, Jay's father founded the old-fashioned drugstore, which even has a lunch counter. Through the years, I watched as Jay went to bat for his customer friends, interceding with insurance companies to solve pricing errors. When COVID happened, Jay fought to get a supply of vaccines in his independent pharmacy, because most of the supply was going to large sites. Many of his clientele are elderly, and some lack transportation. Like a country doctor, Jay packed his Jeep with syringes and vaccines, and traveled to individual homes to vaccinate the shut-ins. Last winter, I saw Jay walk out of the pharmacy in his white coat to give an injection to a frail lady sitting in the passenger seat of a car. It was zero degrees. When I asked him about that particular situation, he shrugged and said, "That's what I do. that's what my dad taught me." Jay has made a little "Medicine Museum" in the store, which features many old mortars and pestles, antique pill bottles, and more. His customer friends have added to the collection, which everyone enjoys. Because of the friendly atmosphere and the lunch counter, Adzema Pharmacy has become the town center of McCandless Township. Going out to breakfast or lunch and meeting old friends at Adzema have become the reasons that many of the elderly patrons get out of bed. If McCandless Township were the town of Mayberry in "The Andy Griffith Show," Adzema Pharmacy would be Floyd's Barbershop, the most important place in town. By the way, Jay was just named as the winner in the Community Service category.
I tell you all of this because I think this program of awards is so important. A public school education lays a great foundation for students, and if that education is a good one, the student learns a great amount of information, important values, a strong work ethic, and the importance of being a part of a community - whether that community be local or the entire field of law, science, business, the arts, or medicine. Once again, North Allegheny School District leads the way in recognizing excellence in its graduates. If your school district does not have a similar program, l strongly urge you to create one. A yearly event of honoring distinguished alumni brings the entire school community together, and it inspires so many.
Wishing you a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! Dede
Visit Dede's web page for complete details on her award-winning book, STUDENT TEACHING: THE INSIDE SCOOP FROM A MASTER TEACHER. Many colleges have made the book required reading. Signed copies are available www.dederittman.com Dede is also a national speaker on The Three C's for Classroom success: Confidence, communication, and Creativity; Avoiding Teacher burnout; and many other inspirational topics.
I LOVE writing. And I love writing children's books- my newest passion. Although it will be a ton of work, I am looking forward to selling my books. Since I was a secondary teacher, I know that I have much to learn about elementary students, and I will have to follow my own advice and be my genuine self. However, I also know that I am passionate about helping kids who have to wear glasses, and that GRADY GETS GLASSES sends a positive message. I am willing to work hard and do all the things that also made me a successful teacher for 37
Teacher friends- let me know if you want me to read GRADY GETS GLASSES at your school. I am willing to come in to discuss the creative writing process, why writing is important, and personal fulfillment through writing, along with reading my book. I would appreciate the exposure, and I would make signed copies available for purchase in your classrooms following the reading. Please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org The website www.gradygetsglasses.com now has plush Grady bunnies for sale!
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