Matthew Thornton Elementary School volunteer Amy Zalinsky, left, and Matthew Thornton teacher Ray Clermont, right, received Excellence in Education awards from the Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce at the chamber's Breakfast Forum Wednesday. Matthew Thornton Principal Carol Mack is at center.

Enrichment teacher Ray Clermont and volunteer Amy Zalinsky from Matthew Thornton Elementary School both received Excellence in Education Awards from the Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce at the chamber's Breakfast Forum Wednesday, May 16.

Raymond Simon, U.S. deputy secretary of education, was the guest speaker at the forum, held at the Derryfield Restaurant in Manchester. He presented the awards to Clermont and Zalinsky and two teachers from Manchester, John Giotas and James Pingree.

Matthew Thornton Principal Carol Mack nominated Clermont and Zalinsky for the awards and told them at an all-school assembly just before spring vacation in April that they had been chosen.

"I told Carol that I don't need an award," Clermont said. "I said, 'All I ever need is for you to say I'm doing a good job.'"

Clermont has been teaching in the Londonderry School District for 30 years and has been at Matthew Thornton for 23. He has taught grades three through six, and this year he is the school's special curriculum math enrichment teacher.

Mack said Clermont approaches each school year with the excitement of a brand-new teacher.

"That's true this year," Clermont said. "I never taught first-graders before. They're great, like little sponges."

Clermont is teaching the students that math can be a positive experience.

"I tell stories and do different fun activities with them," he said.

School officials said Amy Zalinsky will be missed at Matthew Thornton when her son Brandon, 11, moves on to middle school next year.

Since her son was in the first grade, Zalinsky has volunteered as a room mother, chair of the Parent Teacher Association grant team and parent representative on the fifth-grade enrichment cluster program. She also organized the clerical volunteer team for the school's 36 classrooms.

For the past three years, Zalinsky photographed almost every school event during and after school hours. She spent countless hours making copies of photos for individual students and made photo displays for the school's reception area. She has also made DVDs of each year's activities and sent them to the local TV access channel to share with the community.

"I am absolutely thrilled for both of them," said Londonderry Superintendent Nate Greenberg, who attended Wednesday's breakfast. "Their awards are well-deserved."

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