After pondering what they could do to get teachers recognized for their hard work, the Renaissance Gala Committee of the East Toledo Family Center decided to create an award just for them.
For the first time, local teachers will be honored and given an "East Toledo Teacher of the Year" award at the center's annual Gala on Saturday.
The first "Teacher of the Year" awards will be given to three Toledo Public Schools teachers. They are Mary Ellen Bollenbacher of Birmingham Elementary and Mary Kurt of Waite High School, who both have been educators for 33 years; and Janice Bissonette, who is retired from Westfield Elementary and now coordinates Oakdale Elementary's STARS Program. She has been in education for 44 years.
Also at the gala, two people will be inducted into the East Toledo Family Center's Hall of Fame as distinguished citizens. They are Richard Kandik, a Clay High School teacher and coach, and Mike McAlear, a lifetime board member at the center.
The distinguished citizens honor has been awarded since 1994 to 30 people who have lived, worked, or served East Toledo in some way, said Kim Partin, executive director of the family center.
"It's really to distinguish those who have had some ties to the East Toledo community," she said.
Mr. Kandik said he was "shocked at first, and then elated" when told he'll be included in the center's hall of fame.
"I have a lot of fond memories of the East Toledo Family Center," he said. When I was young and growing up, I probably spent every day there for probably eight or nine years, anyway."
Mr. Kandik, 65, graduated from Libbey High School in 1958 and went on to become a teacher.
After teaching general science for several years at Eisenhower Junior High School in Oregon, he transferred to Clay High School, where he taught for 30 years until he retired in 1996.
While at Clay, he was the assistant basketball coach and head baseball coach from 1974 to 1996.
His 1979 baseball team was the first baseball team from northwest Ohio to win a state championship.
Mr. Kandik was inducted into the Ohio Baseball Coaches Hall of Fame in 1993, earned Northwest Ohio Baseball Coach of the Year honors eight times, and was Ohio Baseball Coach of the Year in 1979.
He and his wife, Suzanne, have three children and are now retired and living in Bonita Springs, Fla.
Mr. McAlear, 45, was born in Montreal, Canada, and came to Toledo when his parents adopted him from an orphanage there.
While a senior at Cardinal Stritch High School in 1978, he met Gloria Rizor - whose family relied on the East Toledo Family Center when they lived in the neighborhood. The two married 21 years ago, and they have four children.
Mr. McAlear is chief executive officer of Service Spring Corp., a Millbury-based manufacturer, and was instrumental in developing the first information systems software for order entry, inventory control, and manufacturing.
In 1994, his business received the Pioneer Award from the Eastern Maumee Bay Business Association for excellence in business.
In 2003, he was awarded the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year of Northwest Ohio award. In 1998, he received the Twenty Under 40 Leadership award for those exhibiting strong leadership in the Toledo area.
He was a member of the family center's board from 1993 until 1998 and was inducted as a lifetime board member of the family center a year later.
In addition, he is a board member for Rossford schools, the Toledo Zoo, Stritch, and the American Red Cross, and is a member of the board of trustees for Lourdes College.
This year's gala, with a theme of "A Center for All Seasons," will be held at 6:30 p.m. Saturday at Erie Street Market Civic Center.
Also at the gala, Waite High School seniors Holly Gross and Amber Rich will be awarded $1,000 scholarships. They became eligible for the awards after volunteering at least 20 hours at the center.