By KIMBERLY HOUGHTON
Union Leader Correspondent
MERRIMACK — A local high school teacher has been named New Hampshire’s All-Star Educator for making a positive impact on the lives of numerous Merrimack students.
This week, Jon Van de Car was recognized by the New Hampshire Lottery and New Hampshire Motor Speedway as the winner of its “All-Star Educators” contest. He was awarded a $3,000 donation, and will be honored with a VIP experience at the Sylvania 300 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race on Sept. 21 at NHMS.
Van de Car is a welding and automotive instructor at Merrimack High School. He was nominated for the award by principal Kenneth Johnson.
“What really stood out about Mr. Van de Car was his emphasis on helping students develop life skills and promoting a life-long love of learning,” said Charlie McIntyre, executive director of the New Hampshire Lottery Commission. “There is no doubt that his students and Merrimack High School are lucky to have had Mr. Van de Car.”
As the winner of the award, Merrimack High School receives a $2,500 donation, and another $500 donation goes to Van de Car’s favorite school program — the welding and automotive program.
In Johnson’s nomination letter, he noted that Van de Car has impacted hundreds of students, many who would not have succeeded in life without his instruction and guidance.
“(Mr. Van de Car’s) unique style of teaching excites a love of learning in students who do not experience success in traditional classrooms, convinces them to remain in school, and urges them on to higher education so that they can achieve their goals,” wrote Johnson.
Jerry Gappens, executive vice president and general manager at NHMS, described Van de Car as a shining example of the type of teacher desired in New Hampshire schools.
“His lessons in class may lead students straight to the infield racing action at our track, but his focus on life skills beyond the classroom will help ensure the next generation of graduates is successful no matter which path they choose,” Gappens said in a statement.
Runner-up prizes have also been awarded to 10 other New Hampshire teachers, including: Chief Master Sgt. Thomas Puzzo, Air Force ROTC instructor at Salem High School; Diane McManus, special education teacher at the Monarch School of New England in Rochester; Adam Bastille, clinical instructor and art instructor at the Birchtree Center in Newington; Brewster Bartlett, master teacher of physical science at Pinkerton Academy in Derry; Maryanne Taylor, social worker at the Grinnell Elementary School in Derry; Margaret “Peggy” Lacey, RN and school nurse at the Jennie D. Blake Elementary School in Hill; Selma Naccach-Hoff, building level instructional leader for the English department at Manchester High School Central; Lisa Rogers, secretary at the North Charlestown Community School in Charlestown; Gail Parenteau, secretary at the Andover Elementary Middle School in Andover; and Ginger Drechsel, social worker at the Parker-Varney Elementary School in Manchester.