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A Strong force in the classroom

September 22, 2004

Jacqui Brown

Every so often you come across a teacher who lights up a child's mind

and imagination and wins the respect of his or her peers.

This year, after many interviews, nine essays and a lot of

questions, that person boiled down to Linda Strong, first-grade

teacher at Bret Harte Elementary School.

Strong, named Burbank Unified's Teacher of the Year, will sit

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among 62 peers at the Universal Hilton on Friday in the hopes of

being selected as one of the 13 winners for the 2004-05 Los Angeles

County Teacher of the Year.

The county program is the largest in the state and is part of the

nation's oldest honors competition that identifies and spotlights

kindergarten through 12th-grade teachers who have demonstrated

compelling classroom practices, positive accomplishments and

outstanding dedication in L.A. County's public schools.

"This is really an honor to represent my district," Strong said.

"This is something that, if there was one honor other than the

honorary service award from the PTA, this is the one to get because

it comes from my colleagues and my district."

When nominating someone for this award, how that person performs

as a teacher and a professional is considered, said Barbara Eisner,

faculty chairwoman at Harte.

"[Strong's] considered to be a top- notch teacher by most of those

who know her," Eisner said. "She's very well respected throughout the

school system."

Literacy seemed to surface in her young mind as early as first

grade in Mrs. Kirk's class, coincidentally in the room next to her

current classroom.

"I was watching her read from a big book," Strong said, pointing

to the front of her class where her own big book sits. "I remember

saying to myself -- that's what I want to do."

Along with her elementary duties, Strong has spent nearly seven

years instructing teachers how to teach reading and methodology

courses in language arts, social studies and fine arts, and has

recently completed her administration credential to become a

principal.

The event will be in the Sierra Ballrooms at the Hilton Universal

City & Towers, 555 Universal Hollywood Drive, Universal City, and

will begin with a reception at 10:15 a.m., with the announcements and

presentation ceremony at 11 a.m.

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