Eastside teacher receives birthday surprise

Published 11:56 am Wednesday, May 17, 2006

By By ANDY HAMILTON / Niles Daily Star
NILES - The administration had never pulled a fast one on Rick Althouse.
That is, until Monday night when the board of education for Niles Community Schools convinced Althouse he needed to be at the regular board meeting. Althouse said the board requested him to give a presentation on, of all days, his 56th birthday.
The real reason Althouse needed to be in attendance was so he could be honored as the Wal-Mart Teacher of the Year. Community Relations Coordinator for the Niles Wal-Mart Supercenter Mary Jane Davis, who presented Althouse with the award, said every Wal-Mart store nationwide selects one teacher for the award each spring.
People of the community were invited to nominate a teacher at the store's service desk. Davis said those who submitted a suggestion ranged anywhere from students and their parents to other teachers.
Because of the amount of nominations, Davis said she had to read all 45 entries and then select a panel of 10 people to narrow the stack of 45 choices to 20 and then to 10. Althouse, the last teacher standing after the process, was awarded a $100 gift certificate as well as a $1,000 check to use on school supplies.
The parent who nominated Althouse wrote that the teacher had “saved her child's life,” Davis said. “The student went from a C-D student to A's and B's. The child loves school now and is involved in school,” Davis said.
Althouse, who has also taught kindergarten and second grade in Niles, said his days in grade school prepared him for his job leading young children.
The job of Teacher of the Year did not end with the local award. Davis said the next step for Althouse involved submitting an application for the national competition. From that group, Davis said both a $10,000 and $25,000 winner would be selected by Wal-Mart.
The next issue? Deciding how to trick Althouse into attending the national ceremony if he wins.