Excel Legacy Continues, School Rejoices

Jessica England

Dr. Craig DaRif, nominated by fellow science department teacher Mr. Zwanzig, received the Excel Golden Apple and check for $1,000.

“It’s about time!” Mr. Glenn Zwanzig (Math) told the cheering crowd at the Excel Award Ceremony held White 4, Wednesday, February 3 in the auditorium. Dr. Craig DaRif, a teacher who was nominated by fellow science department teacher Mr. Zwanzig, received the Excel Golden Apple and check for $1,000, as well as the School House Award, a medal, $500 from the faculty, and many thanks and praise.

Dr. Darif was the twelfth teacher to win the Excel Award at Manual. Mr. Zwanzig said he nominated Dr. DaRif because he is a “dynamic teacher” who improves the image of the science department and inspires kids to work harder. “Kids love him. He has the best AP scores year after year, but he’s so humble,” Mr Zwanzig said.

In order to nominate Dr. DaRif, Mr. Zwanzig had to write a letter to the Jefferson County Board of Education explaining Dr. DaRif’s achievements and what made him qualified to win the award. Dr. DaRif then went through a selection process that involved classroom observation. The whole process took two years to complete.

“Find what you love to do and do it,” a slogan used by Dr. DaRif, was printed on the programs distributed at the ceremony.

Other teachers, such as Ms. Joan Perkins (Foreign Language), a 2001 Excel Award Winner, said they felt inspired by Dr. DaRif.

Ms. Perkins said she feels a tremendous amount of pride to be a part of a family that celebrates the success of its teachers. “It’s nice to be a part of a faculty where teaching is so highly regarded,” Ms. Perkins said.

As a teacher who arrives to school early and stays late, Dr. DaRif was described as an “All-American Teacher” by Mr. Zwanzig. Mr. Larry Wooldridge (Principal), said, “All teachers want to learn from him.”

In response to his teaching achievements as well as winning the Excel award, Dr. DaRif said, “It’s good to be me.” He said he really loves his job and helping young adults become the people he thinks they can be.

Dr. DaRif ended his acceptance speech with a few words of advice: “Find something that you’re passionate about, not just good at. You can be good at a lot of things, but if you find something you’re passionate about and you really love, you have the opportunity to be extraordinary.”

See our video about Dr. DaRif’s award too.