May 9, 2008
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,”