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Hamilton Disston teacher wins "Time' prize

Sheree Rensel, a K-12 art teacher at Hamilton Disston School, is the grand prize winner of the Time for Kids/Chevrolet Malibu Teaching Excellence Awards contest. She received a check for $2,000 and the keys to a 2001 Chevrolet Malibu in a Tuesday ceremony at the school, 5125 11th Ave. S in Gulfport.

The contest is a partnership between Time for Kids, published by Time magazine, and Chevrolet. The program honors extraordinary teachers who incorporate innovative techniques into their instruction. Rensel entered in February by submitting a 10-page portfolio detailing her curriculum and the accomplishments of her severely emotionally disturbed students, along with an essay titled "Believe in the Unbelievable."

Keith Garton, Time for Kids publisher, said Rensel was chosen from more than 500 applicants. He said the judges were impressed with her ability to translate her expectations for her students into language they can understand.

Rensel, 47, received bachelor's and master's degrees in fine arts from Wayne State University in Detroit. She was a Pinellas County Arts Council artist in residence at Lealman Discovery and Robinson Challenge schools before coming to Hamilton Disston in 1993.

"I'm just one of the thousands and thousands of teachers who deserve recognition like this," Rensel said. "There are people just like me in classrooms every single day working very hard to educate all our children."

She said she will use the $2,000 prize money to buy a digital camera and a computer to use in her interactive art and computer instruction.