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Greensburg Salem biology teacher earns St. Vincent alumni award

| Thursday, Sept. 19, 2013, 7:56 p.m.
Marilyn Forbes | for Trib Total Media
Student Ta-Shai Bundridge, 18, helps with the many cages of critters that fill teacher Andrea Redinger’s room.
Marilyn Forbes | for Trib Total Media
Greensburg Salem High school biology teacher Andrea Redinger has fun with Pascal, one of her many critters that she uses as part of her curriculum.

From her critters to her curriculum, Greensburg Salem High School biology teacher Andrea Ferraco Redinger's passion and devotion to her profession and students is apparent from the positive influence that she has made in her 12 years of teaching.

“She's a great teacher,” student Ta-Shai Bundridge, 18, said of Redinger. “She's fun, interesting and very thorough.”

Redinger's devotion to her work and students has not gone unnoticed, as she is one of two St. Vincent alumni who will receive Recent Alumnus Achievement Awards from the college during homecoming weekend, Sept. 27 - 29.

Redinger, who is a 2001 graduate of the Unity college, said that she is pleased and honored to have been chosen for this distinction.

“I was really excited,” she said of her initial reaction to the news. “St. Vincent prepared me in biology to go into any area where I would use that knowledge. I was honored. I don't know who nominated me, but I am secretly hoping it was a past student that I encouraged to go to St. Vincent. I loved my time at St. Vincent and now I actually teach in their Graduate Education department. It is great to be back on campus during those times. I get to teach in the new science center this year — I can't wait.”

Redinger encourages her students to learn with a hands-on, interactive approach.

“I don't do anything that is a ‘cookie cutter' lesson. Almost everything is hands-on,” Redinger said.

Last year, she was awarded a Great Idea grant from the Consortium Through Public Education program and purchased 20 animals that she now houses in her classroom.

Her classroom “critters” range from a cage of Madagascar hissing cockroaches to a curious chameleon named Pascal.

“Each of my 20 Biology II students was assigned one of the critters to learn about, then when we brought in the fourth-grade elementary students, they all talked to them about their individual critters,” Redinger said.

Seven others will receive alumni of distinction awards for their lifetime achievements and service to St Vincent, said college public relations Director Don Orlando.

“The recipients are all graduates of St. Vincent in various fields that were selected by the Alumni Association in recognition of their meritorious service,” Orlando said. “They have all shown a commitment to St. Vincent and have served St. Vincent in some fashion.”

Redinger said she remains a student in her classroom, learning along with her pupils as they all grow together.

“I don't have all the answers and I tell my students that up front, which makes me a more likeable teacher — not so untouchable,” Redinger said. “ I like to learn with them or from them. ... If they can teach it, I know they know their stuff.”

Award recipients will be honored at a dinner on Sept. 27 at 6 p.m.

Marilyn Forbes is a contributing writer.