The Buffalo Bills and M&T Bank announced and honored the fifth annual "M&T Bank Touchdown for Teachers" program finalists and winner at the Bills vs. New York Jets game at Ralph Wilson Stadium Sunday, November 17.
The M&T Bank Touchdown for Teachers finalists are:
- Sam Endich – Heim Middle School – Williamsville, NY
- Phil Aguglia – Kenmore East High School – Kenmore, NY
- Maureen Bialeszewski – Fredonia BOCES, LoGuidice Center – Fredonia, NY
- Patrick Wirth – School Union Pleasant Elementary – Hamburg, N.Y
- Marie Persch – Brocton Central School District – Brocton, NY
- Posthumous Honorable Mention: John Tronolone – Transit Middle School – Williamsville, NY
The program honors teachers for their outstanding service to their schools and communities. Honorees are chosen based on their amount of involvement in the school or community, degree of positive impact on the school or community and their demonstrated commitment to education.
The five finalists received two game tickets to the Bills vs. Jets game, pregame field access to watch warm-ups, in-game recognition on the video board, and an official Buffalo Bills game ball.
The grand prize was awarded to Patrick Wirth, a 4th grade teacher at School Union Pleasant Elementary in Hamburg, N.Y. Wirth goes above and beyond to inspire each individual student through personalized education plans and strives to show students that learning is a year-round, lifelong process and above all is fun. As the head of the technology program at his school, he constantly looks for new and interesting ways to integrate technology into learning. His interactive classroom website gets thousands of hits from all over the world each week and serves as a portal for his students to view and share work with their peers around the globe. Each year, his class runs the Bulldogs Pencil Shop, charging a small amount from staff and students for school supplies to benefit communities in need from the hurricane-stricken Staten Island area to Kigali, Rwanda. Wirth also teaches master's classes at Canisius College and voluntarily coordinates, supervises, and teaches his master's students through the C4K summer camp for children of various backgrounds looking to explore the culture and history of Buffalo in a nontraditional learning environment. As he dares his students to dream big and impact their world, his attitude is infectious and inspires both students and coworkers alike. As part of his prize, Wirth will receive an in-class visit from a Buffalo Bills player and a $1,000 grant for the School Union Pleasant Elementary.
"One of the most encouraging parts of the Touchdown for Teachers program was the big increase in the nominations we received," said Tim McMorrow, M&T Bank Group VP for Retail Banking in Western New York. "It took some serious deliberating to select only five finalists, but we are proud to partner with the Buffalo Bills to provide a unique recognition experience for some of the outstanding teachers in our communities that play pivotal roles in the education and development of our students."
"Being able to recognize talented and dedicated teachers is an honor for the Buffalo Bills," said Bruce Popko, Bills Senior Vice President of Business Development. "Working together with M&T Bank on our M&T Bank Touchdown for Teachers program gives us the opportunity to showcase the outstanding teachers we have in this community. Congratulations to our finalists and to Patrick Wirth, our 2013 M&T Bank Touchdown for Teachers winner."