"Character" is what Matt Fink teaches his 5th graders. The theme of his classroom is: "Country, Spirit and Loyalty."
Those are qualities he learned in the Marine Corps and passed on to Dorrean Nelson and her daughter Pa'Seana. Pa'Seana is a former student and now a Cadet at Norwich University studying for a career in the military. She came home to be part of our surprise. "This right here would be a perfect opportunity to show him how thankful I was for him as a teacher."
Dorrean is Mr. Fink's Teacher's Aide. He has inspired her as well. "To become an educator. I've always thought of it but his style of teaching says yes I can do this, yes I can. I can do this." Dorrean is now pursuing her dream at Monroe Community College.
Mr. Fink says he's touched Pa'Seana is following in his foot steps. "It makes a huge difference to know that something I taught her, something I care about, it was instilled in her. But it just means everything. I only hope I can bring some good patriots and loyally citizens into this world. And if I do my little part that means everything."
Matt Fink is a News 8 Golden Apple Award winner. You can read the letter Dorrean and Pa'Seana wrote nominating him below.
Dear Channel 8,
Mr. Fink was an ex-military man who served his country and now serves our children as a 5th grade teacher at Munn Elementary School. I first met Mr. Fink in 2002 when my daughter Pa'Seana was a student in his class.
Mr. Fink runs his class with a great amount of respect and discipline, but with a quite voice. Being an ex-military man he places his students in 5 military groups (Army, Navy, Air force, Marines and Coast Guard), with Pa'Seana's being in the Air Force. He also displayed flags representing places he had traveled. Pa'Seana had some academic and disciplinary issues, let me tell you Mr. Fink had no problem sending notes home or making home phone calls.
Mr. Fink became a household name; when ever Sean did anything wrong or right I would say, "What would Mr. Fink say?" All through 10th and 12th grade Sean was a member of the Civil Air Patrol, wearing her military uniform proudly; she became Sgt. First Class. When Sean applied to colleges and was excepted it was Norwich University that she choose, a military school in Vermont.
Mr. Fink is still a household name. At our 1st family week-end at Norwich Sean purchased 2 flags, one representing Norwich and the other was the American flag. She is now Private Pa'Seana Nelson. Upon graduation she will be Lieutenant Pa'Seana Nelson with the U.S. Air Force. Not only has Mr. Fink influenced Sean, he has impressed me to become a 5th grade school teacher. I am attending Monroe Community College and doing my 60 hours of internship in Mr. Fink's 5th grade class and I love it. Thanks Mr. Fink!
Dorrean & Pa'Seana Nelson