In October 2014, the St. Louis Public Schools Foundation lost a dear friend: James Finch, III who was the managing trustee of the Pettus Foundation. Read more about him and the Pettus Awards of Excellence, a program he started and through which the SLPS Foundation honors great teachers from every school within SLPS each year.

Remembering Jim Finch

From the scores of students who attended the 8th grade college fairs back in the 1990s, to the hundreds of educators who proudly call themselves “Pettus Awards of Excellence” winners, Jim Finch’s mark in the Saint Louis Public Schools is deep. Last year, when an elementary school principal won a Pettus Award, her enthusiasm was contagious: “This is an amazing affirmation! It is such an honor to know my work makes a difference,” she exclaimed. Jim Finch’s passion for quietly and consistently funding a range of Saint Louis Public Schools programs over the decades has been invaluable. He is remembered for many things: his wit; his tough questions that always prompted better plans; his loyalty; his flexibility; his astute understanding of the importance of systemic work. Jim Finch attended last year’s luncheon to thank the veteran teachers who served as judges for the Pettus Awards of Excellence. After the lunch, he commented: “I love this part of my work, to recognize teachers who have made such a mark in children’s lives.” We are all fortunate for the mark Jim has left in our lives.

The Pettus Awards of Excellence

In its newest strategic plan, the St. Louis Public Schools identifies great teaching as the critical ingredient to students’ achievements. Success depends on the moments of discovery, imagination, trust, and learning that dedicated teachers create in classrooms across the City.

Now in its seventh year, the Pettus Awards of Excellence program continues to be a unique source of recognition to SLPS teachers and principals, assuring them that they are valued and appreciated by their colleagues and the community. The program recognizes outstanding teachers and principals who demonstrate excellence in teaching and leadership, inspire students and staff to achieve, are actively engaged in creating a positive culture in their school and have the respect and admiration of their students, parents and colleagues. Every full-time certified teacher and principal in the District is eligible to be nominated for the award.

The judges select finalists for interviews, using a point system to determine the winners.

One teacher, judged as most outstanding, is chosen from each District elementary, middle, and high school and awarded a $1,000 cash prize. Eight principals judged as most outstanding are also awarded an individual $1,000 cash prize. Winners also receive a plaque to be prominently displayed in their school and a desktop award for their office or classroom.

“The Pettus Foundation is passionate in its belief that strong urban schools are a key element to the St. Louis area succeeding in attracting business and people. Excellent principals and teachers are without a doubt the most important building block for urban schools and with the Pettus Awards of Excellence, we hope to recognize and reward those whom are achieving excellence while at the same time inspiring others to dedicate themselves to students. I offer my sincere congratulations to the 2013 – 2014 winners,” said Jim Finch, Managing Trustee of the Pettus Foundation.

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