A science teacher who sometimes has a schooner on Puget Sound for a classroom, a special education teacher who helps his students show their pride in themselves and their favorite sports teams, and a Teacher of the Year winner whose student leadership programs have helped raise tens of thousands of dollars for charity are all representing the Seattle Mariners as All-Star Teachers nominees.
"Target Presents PEOPLE All-Star Teachers" campaign, in conjunction with Major League Baseball, recognizes and honors current or retired teachers who have made an impact in the lives of their students and communities.
Fans nominated candidates and three finalists were chosen for each Major League team. Fans can now log onto visit AllStarTeachers.com to read the stories of the nominees and vote for their favorites. Voting closes on June 29. One winner will be chosen to represent each team during a special pregame ceremony before the 2014 MLB All-Star Game on July 15, at Target Field in Minneapolis. One winner will be featured in PEOPLE during the week of the All-Star Game.
Nominees for the Seattle Mariners are:
Bob Porto, who teaches engineering at Lawrence School in Falmouth, Massachusetts; Kevin Zelko, an elementary school Special Education teacher at Kimball Elementary in south Seattle; and Bob Bruce of Fern Ridge Middle School in Emira, Oregon.
"Bob Porto is a teacher of engineering, whose real world experience and community involvement has been an inspiration to many. With 20 years of experience in education - and even more as a Seattle Mariners fan - Bob has worked as an environmental educator, camp director, and coordinator on a schooner on Puget Sound, teaching mariner science and maritime studies to kids. He believes in engaging, hands-on curriculum that combines problem solving skills, tools and the engineering design process. His students love that he keeps classes interesting and engaging with a variety of activities and engineering challenges that create a collaborative learning environment. Each project is designed to accommodate diverse needs and skills sets, resulting in a high level of active participation. His students' projects often appear at school committee meetings and every year, they participate in the Falmouth Schools Community Science Fair. Bob is known for bringing cross-age connections to the learning environment, with elementary and middle school students working together to building something great through teamwork."
"Kevin Zelko has taught Special Education for elementary school students for more than 11 years. He is not only a giving person, but a huge fan of the Seattle Mariners as well, and at one time even worked as a concession vendor at Mariners games. This year, Kevin combined his passion for teaching and his passion for sports by launching a fundraiser to get every kid in his school a sports jersey. Teaching in a low-income area, he noticed that note every kid could afford to show their team pride on jersey day at school, so he took his idea to social media and raised $25,000 in 10 days to get every student in the school a Seahawks jersey for the Super Bowl. Kevin has impacted countless children's lives with his patience, understanding and support. In 2011, he received the Symetra "Heroes in the Classroom" award for his dedication to the field of Special Education. He has gone above and beyond to not only affect kids' lives educationally, but also instill a sense of pride in community through sports."
"Bob Bruce grew up in Fairbanks, Alaska, and has accumulated 30 years' experience in education, culminating in a Teacher of the Year and Man of the Year award from his community. His students know that during lunch, they can find this Seattle Mariners fan in his classroom, offering a place to study or catch up on homework. Throughout his career, Bob has encouraged leadership for all his students, spearheading the "Friday Club," a leadership group that met after school on Fridays. They worked hard to hold fundraisers for the local community, put on the annual school talent show and other events that brought the whole town together. He then breathed new life into the leadership program at the middle school, where his students have been inspired to donate tens of thousands of dollars to Habitat for Humanity and the local Community Chest. Bob is also a friend to parents, spending countless nights going to his students' homes to conduct in-person conferences. He believes that knowing his kids' backgrounds is integral to helping them succeed to the fullest, and he continues to be a friendly ear to any student who needs to talk."