EXCEL Award: Dupont Manual High School's Craig Darif

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by Maureen Hagrman

WHAS11.com

Posted on February 3, 2010 at 6:58 PM

Updated Wednesday, Feb 3 at 7:10 PM

(WHAS11) - DuPont Manual High School honored its 12th winner of the WHAS11-e.ON U.S. Excel award Wednesday. And Manual has more Excel winners than any school in Jefferson County.

It was chemistry teacher Craig Darif, who's mid-life career change put him in the teacher's hall of fame.

Darif’s is a remarkable story of a man who graduated from Auburn University as a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine, but found his true calling as a chemistry teacher in high school.

As he practiced as a veterinarian, Craig Darif kept thinking that he should really be a teacher and he was right.

The old auditorium at Manual High School has heard songs from praise for a dozen Excel award teachers with no end in sight.

It is a magnet high school that honored a magnet of a teacher Wednesday.

“He inspires kids. He has a demeanor about him that kids literally flock to him.”

He is one of the most popular teachers to receive a golden apple and that's part of his approach to teaching. 

“If students don't come to my class and like me, like being here, they will go home and they will say, I hate chemistry because I am chemistry to them,” said Darif.

“They haven't seen the beauty of the subject for itself at all. So my personality is the subject for them.”

He is chemistry with a sense of humor and now the doctor, who was once a practicing veterinarian, has jumped to the top of his new profession.    

The applause came from students who obviously admire Dr. Darif, but not because his class is easy.

“I had a young man, who graduated two years ago, who came back to me and he said, I never really knew what studying was, until he took my class.”

Now, with a big check from E.ON U.S. there will be more money for classroom supplies for a teacher who arrives at 5:30 a.m. and stays after school to coach the chess team, and during the day?

“In the classroom, he's a master. He really does inspire kids.”

At the end of the day, Craig Darif says it more important to teach kids how to think than what to think.

Dr. Darif teaches the difficult and challenging AP chemistry class and his student routinely score 4's and 5's on the AP test, the highest scores possible. 

This is just the beginning of a lot of Excel awards,

7 of the next 8 Wednesday’s WHAS11’s Gary Rhodemeir will be back with more awards in Jefferson County, plus Elizabethtown, Hardin County, Larue county and many more thru the Spring. 

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