Disciplined mind opens doors

Shaker High School teacher went from dropout to academic achiever

— Distinguished Professor Daniel C. Levy said Finsel is always one of the first to have his hand up in the classroom, stay engaged in conversation and take part in discussions outside the class.

“He is special in that he is not only very bright, but he’s unusually inquisitive. By unusually, I guess I mean more than that he’s very inquisitive, he tenaciously tries to figure stuff out. He is simultaneously vigorous in his pursuit, but he’s also modest,” Levy said. “You want the student to be thinking, caring and not resting easy with even the good thoughts that he has. He’s a modest guy and self-questioning.”

With this new scholarship, Finsel said he hopes his students will realize that if they work hard at something, it can open up opportunities.

“That’s the most important gift anybody has, is your mind, whether you choose to use it or not,” Finsel said. “There’s value in hard work. The U.S. is the land of opportunities, but you have to take advantages of those opportunities and find them out.”

Shaker High School Principal Richard Murphy said the school is “extremely proud of his accomplishments.”

Associate Professor of Educational Administration and Policy Studies Sandra Vergari is Finsel’s advisor at the University at Albany, and said he was “passionate about education issues and also a careful, analytical thinker.”

“He has demonstrated a sincere interest in helping to address the challenges confronting today’s teachers, students and public education overall. Given his experience, knowledge and skills, Alex has much to offer the education sector,” Vergari said. “Alex is one of our hardest working and highest performing students. This scholarship process is competitive and Alex has certainly earned this recognition.”

Finsel will be presented with his award at the university’s School of Education Awards and Scholarships Ceremony on Friday, May 10.

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