The New Hampshire Lottery and New Hampshire Motor Speedway named Merrimack High School teacher Jon Van de Car New Hampshire's All-Star Educator during a surprise visit to the school Monday afternoon. In an effort to recognize schools' unsung heroes, the New Hampshire Lottery and NHMS asked high school principals across New Hampshire in August to nominate "All-Star Educators" who make a difference in the lives of students, staff and family members. Van de Car, a 36-year welding and automotive instructor at Merrimack High School, will be honored with a VIP experience at the SYLVANIA 300 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race on Sunday, September 21st at NHMS.

With flowers, balloons and a $3,000 donation, New Hampshire Lottery officials surprised Van de Car in his classroom on Monday, with a special presentation by Charlie McIntyre, executive director of the New Hampshire Lottery Commission.

"The New Hampshire Lottery appreciates this opportunity to recognize Mr. Van de Car, who has impacted countless students during his stellar 36-year career," McIntyre said. "What really stood out about Mr. Van de Car was his emphasis on helping students develop life skills and promoting a life-long love of learning. There is no doubt that his students and Merrimack High School are lucky to have had Mr. Van de Car. We cannot wait to honor him at the NHMS."

As the winner, Van de Car's school receives a $2,500 donation, and another $500 donation goes to Van de Car's favorite school program. Van de Car, who was nominated by Merrimack High School Principal Kenneth Johnson, has asked that the $500 donation help fund his welding and automotive program. Along with being honored by Governor Maggie Hassan prior to the NASCAR race on September 21st, Van de Car will be introduced during the pre-race driver introductions just moments before the green flag drops for the second race in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series 10 race playoffs.

In Johnson's nomination letter, he noted that Van de Car has "impacted hundreds of students, many of whose successes in life would not have been possible without his instruction and guidance. Mr. Van De Car's unique style of teaching excites a love of learning in students who do not experience success in traditional classrooms, convinces them to remain in school, and urges them on to higher education so that they can achieve their goals."

"Jon Van de Car is a shining example of exactly what type of teacher we want our children to have in school," says Jerry Gappens, executive vice president and general manager of New Hampshire Motor Speedway. "His lessons in class may lead students straight to the infield racing action at our track. But his focus on life skills beyond the classroom will help ensure the next generation of graduates is successful no matter which path they choose. We are happy to host him during the SYLVANIA 300 NASCAR weekend."

Additionally, 10 runner-up prizes of $250 will be awarded to "All-Stars" to donate to their favorite school programs. The following were All-Star Educator Runners-up:

  • Chief Master Sergeant Thomas Puzzo, Air Force ROTC Instructor at Salem High School. Nominated by Principal Tracy Collyer.
  • Diane McManus, Special Education teacher at the Monarch School of New England in Rochester. Nominated by Kate Sisneroz, Director of Education.
  • Adam Bastille, Clinical Instructor and Art Instructor at the Birchtree Center in Newington. Nominated by Sandra Pierce-Jordan, Executive Director.
  • Brewster Bartlett, Master Teacher of Physical Science at Pinkerton Academy in Derry. Nominated by Chip Underhill, Executive Director, Public Relations and External Affairs.
  • Maryanne Taylor, Social Worker at the Grinnell Elementary School in Derry. Nominated by Mary Hill, Principal.
  • Margaret "Peggy" Lacey, RN and School Nurse at the Jennie D. Blake Elementary School in Hill. Nominated by Principal Jay Lewis.
  • Selma Naccach-Hoff, Building Level Instructional Leader for the English Department at Manchester Central High School in Manchester. Nominated by Principal John Vaccarezza.
  • Lisa Rogers, secretary at the North Charlestown Community School in Charlestown. Nominated by Principal Paula Southard-Stevens.
  • Gail Parenteau, secretary at the Andover Elementary Middle School in Andover. Nominated by Principal Jane Slayton.
  • Ginger Drechsel, Social Worker at the Parker-Varney Elementary School in Manchester. Nominated by Principal Amy Allen.

Principals were encouraged to submit 250-word nominations to the New Hampshire Lottery. Nominations were reviewed by a committee comprised of New Hampshire Lottery and NHMS officials.