April 26, 2006
Director of Media Relations

AMHERST, Mass.—Four secondary-school teachers who challenged, inspired and moved members of the Class of 2006 will receive the Phebe and Zephaniah Swift Moore Teaching Awards at Amherst College’s Senior Class Exercises at 1:30 p.m. on Saturday, May 27, during Commencement Weekend.

“American colleges and universities must recognize that the secondary schools matter,” says Anthony W. Marx, the president of Amherst. “Education is the best tool we have for improving the world. Teachers who are willing to take the time to help their students achieve are making a difference in many lives”.

The Phebe and Zephaniah Swift Moore Teaching Awards recognize teachers who have been important in the careers of Amherst students.

The awards this year will go to:

Elissa Jury, a science teacher from Rondout Valley High School in Accord, N.Y., was nominated by Jon Vosper of Kingston, N.Y. The son of a corrections officer and a day-care provider, Vosper says he didn’t care much about academic success when he entered high school. “In my high school,” he wrote in his nomination, “there were no honors courses in math or the sciences, so these classes represented the full spectrum of academic ability and socio-economic backgrounds. Mrs. Jury’s ability to engage and inspire both ordinary students and exceptionally bright individuals was truly amazing…It’s extremely rare that kids from my area end up at places like Amherst,” Vosper wrote.

Robert Wilmoth, a history teacher from Elkins High School in Elkins, W.V., was nominated by Aaron Hall of Montrose, W.V. Hall wrote in his nomination, "Mr. Wilmoth appeared when I needed him most, when the internal flame of curiosity and ambition was flickering out and a competing one of bitterness and frustration was being kindled. As an instructor and then as vice principal, he reached out to feed the former while mitigating the latter. With Mr. Wilmoth on my side and exerting his positive gravitational influence, my high school came to view me as an asset rather than troublemaker. Now it feels natural for me to be at Amherst, to study history and politics, even to excel here.”

John Benson, a math teacher from Evanston Township High School in Evanston, Ill. Was nominated separately by three different students – Rachel Gilbert, Hilary Levinson and Christian McClellan, all of Evanston, Ill. Benson has taught for 36 years at Evanston Township High School, where he works with Project Excite, a program that connects high school teachers with 3rd-grade minority students in hopes of better preparing them for academic success. And Judy Frank, a novelist who has been teaching English at Amherst College since 1988, remembers him as a positive influence from her days at Evanston High School.

David Ely, a biology teacher from Champlain Valley Union High School in Hinesburg, Vt., was nominated by Carolyn Koulouris of Shelburne, Vt. “At my public high school,” Koulouris wrote in her nomination, “he is revered.” Ely created a program that annually provides an opportunity for 20 high school students to do summer research at Vermont Medical School, and inspired Koulouris to become a teacher. “Last fall I told him that I might want to teach high school biology,” Koulouris wrote, “but what I could not figure out how to say was that I hoped I could be as much like him as possible.”

This is the 10th year that Amherst College has presented the award, with which it expresses its appreciation for the profession of teaching. The recipients are chosen by a committee of seniors, faculty and staff from nominations submitted by graduating seniors.