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    Oldsmar teacher assistant honored for her dedication


    © St. Petersburg Times, published April 22, 2001

    Betty Finch-Munford, a teacher assistant at Oldsmar Elementary School, was recently selected as a semifinalist for the Pinellas County Schools support employee of the year.

    Finch-Munford, 58, has been an employee of Pinellas County Schools for 33 years, 30 at Oldsmar Elementary. During that time she has served under five principals and has seen thousands of students come and go. Some of her former students are now sending their children to the school.

    "I've seen one generation go and another one come in," she said.

    Finch-Munford serves all the classes in the school as a teacher assistant. She helps supervise classrooms when teachers are late or must leave the room. She also works in the school's copy center.

    She has served on Oldsmar Elementary's school improvement team, hospitality committee, multicultural committee and Doorways selection committee.

    Principal David Schmitt has seen Finch-Munford from two different perspectives. His first teaching job was at the school from 1977 to 1980 and he returned as principal in 1995.

    "Betty is just a wonderful character," Schmitt said. "She aims to please, she loves the children and we're delighted to have her here."

    Although Finch-Munford has seen times change and styles change, one thing remains the same.

    "Kids are kids," she said. "I just love working with the children."

    PRIDE award winners announced

    Forest Lakes Elementary School has announced the winners of its PRIDE awards for the 2000-2001 school year.

    The awards are given annually to students in fifth grade in four subject areas. To be eligible for a PRIDE award, a student must have achieved two A's in a subject during the first semester, have demonstrated a positive attitude and good work habits and score among the highest in the school on a subject area test. In writing, students must submit samples of their work.

    The PRIDE award winner in mathematics is Travis Byington; in science the award went to Alison Burnham; James Dirks took social studies honors; and Lindsay Holmes won the writing PRIDE award.

    The students will be honored May 10 at a ceremony at Ruth Eckerd Hall.

    Pack your bags for chamber party

    The Oldsmar Chamber of Commerce is scheduled to host its third annual suitcase party June 8 at Oldsmar City Hall, 100 W State St.

    Guests come with their suitcases packed, ready to leave for one of 20 trips that will be given away throughout the evening, said Brenda Robinson, director of member services for the chamber.

    "It is a really fun, fun event," she said. "And 75 percent of the people end up leaving for a weekend trip."

    The trips entered in the drawing this year range from those as close as Oldsmar's newest hotel, the Holiday Inn Express, to as far away as Opryland Hotel in Nashville, Tenn.

    The event starts at 5:30 p.m. with cocktails and dinner starts at 6:30 p.m. Tickets are $150 per couple, and space is limited to 30 couples. Robinson said only 10 openings remain.

    Those interested in attending must reserve their tickets before May 4 to be eligible for the two "fly-away" trips that will be awarded at the party.

    For information and reservations, contact Robinson at (813) 855-4233.

    Chamber official's hard work recognized

    At last Tuesday's Oldsmar City Council meeting, Mayor Jerry Beverland presented the monthly City Council/City Manager award to Brenda Robinson, director of special events for the Oldsmar Chamber of Commerce.

    "She's the person who does all the work," Beverland joked.

    He also said that Robinson is the person who keeps things going at the chamber and that she has the personality that everyone would like to have.

    Robinson was deeply moved to have received the award.

    "Oldsmar has a very special place in my heart," she said. "I'm just happy to play a very small role in the city."

    Robinson has been with the chamber for three years. She lives in Safety Harbor with her husband, Richard, and has two children.

    Certificates and savings bonds were also presented to the winners of the 2001 American Water Works poster contest.

    The contest, which is in its fourth year in Oldsmar, recognizes the efforts of Oldsmar Elementary School students in creating posters on water conservation.

    Awards were given in three age categories. First place winners received a $75 savings bond and second and third place winners received a $50 savings bond donated by the city.

    "Kids have problems to deal with that we didn't have with the environment," said Tony Mannello, environmental specialist with the city. "This allows kids to do something artistic while also encouraging their thought processes as far as water conservation."

    The contest winners were, in kindergarten and first grade:

    First place, Taylor Whidden;

    Second place, Andy Graziano;

    Third place, Morgan VanAmburgh;

    In second and third grade:

    First place, Kristen Gordon;

    Second place, Chelsea Girtain;

    Third place, Jacy Waring;

    In fourth and fifth grade:

    First place, Jason Williams;

    Second place, Candice Hazelwood;

    Third place, Josh Yontz.

    The winning posters in each category were entered in the statewide competition in Tallahassee, where they received honorable mention.

    Book discussion group to chat

    The Oldsmar Library's book discussion group will meet at noon Thursday to discuss Winter Solstice by Rosamunde Pilcher.

    Participants are invited to bring lunch. The library will provide dessert.

    The library is at 101 State St. For information, call (813) 855-5940.

    - If you have news or photos about Oldsmar schools, churches, businesses, neighborhood groups, community organizations or people, contact Julie Church at the North Pinellas Times. You can call her at (727) 445-4229 or mail material to North Pinellas Times, 34342 U.S. 19 N, Palm Harbor, FL 34684.

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