Denfeld News

May 9, 2008
Duluth News Tribune

Longtime Denfeld teacher wins local award
By Sarah Horner

Teachers competing against Ed Felien for a local teaching award this year probably didn’t know how badly the cards were stacked against them. Hailing from a long line of teachers, the Denfeld High School chemistry teacher brought more than 270 years of combined teaching experience to the table.

With that kind of resume, it’s no wonder Felien was awarded the second annual Goldfine Gold Star Teacher Award on Thursday night at a ceremony at the Inn on Lake Superior.

“Teaching has been a tradition in my family forever,” Felien, 65, said. “I grew up steeped in it. I still have my dad’s first contract from Duluth for $900 a year.” Both his parents died before they could see the fruits of his career, he said. “I wish they could see that all their work paid off.”

Besides receiving recognition for his work, Felien was presented with a $5,000 check to be used however he sees fit.

Lillian Goldfine and her husband, Manley, started a fund through the Duluth-Superior Area Community Foundation to finance the award last year.

“We are really lucky in Duluth to have so many really well-qualified teachers,” Lillian Goldfine said at the ceremony. “This is a way to give them more recognition and honor and reward than they get.”

Felien was one of eight secondary teachers nominated for the award throughout the Duluth school district. Next year elementary teachers will compete; it will continue to alternate until the fund grows large enough to recognize both.

“This is so humbling, you can’t even imagine,” Felien said about the honor. “This [career] has been a joy for the whole ride.”

Felien has taught in Duluth for 42 years, most of them at Denfeld.

“Mr. Felien is by all measures one of the finest teachers with whom I’ve had the opportunity to work with in my 28 years as an educator,” Denfeld Principal Ed Crawford said. “He challenges students to think beyond the simple to the complex.”

Crawford said Felien believes in the potential of each student and encourages them be successful. Several of his students have gone on to pursue careers in science.

Felien said he has seen many changes in his field throughout his decades of service. He was one of the first in the district to use a hand-held calculator, and more recently was one of the first to equip his classroom with a computerized “smart board.” But his core mission has remained the same.

“The kids come first and that’s that,” he said.

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