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University of Iowa News Release

Sept. 11, 2003

Former Hawkeye Dwight Nominates UI Alumna For NFL Teacher Award

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A University of Iowa alumna and teacher at Mark Twain Elementary School in Iowa City is one of 10 finalists for the 2003 NFL Teacher of the Year Award after being nominated by one of her former students and fellow UI graduate, Tim Dwight of the San Diego Chargers.

Julie Ann Busch (BA '69/MA '73) and the nine other finalists will receive $1,000 in grants for their schools from NFL Charities and become eligible to win the monthly and national NFL Teacher of the Year awards.

Each month from September through December, the NFL will select a top teacher from among the finalists to receive a $2,500 NFL cash award and $5,000 for the school where the teacher and student met. The fifth top teacher, who will be selected in January, will become the NFL Teacher of the Year, receive a $5,000 grant and another $10,000 for his or her school and will be honored at the annual AFC-NFC All-Star game in Honolulu, Hawaii.

"Professionally, it's the nicest honor I've ever received while teaching," said Busch, who taught Dwight's third-grade class from 1984-1985 and is in her 35th year in education. "I was so proud of the fact Tim had taken time to nominate me. The fact that I'm one of 10 semifinalists is just icing on the cake."

Busch obtained both of her degrees from the UI College of Education, a bachelor's degree in elementary education and a master's degree in elementary education counseling. Prior to moving in 1970 to Mark Twain -- where she teaches third, fourth and fifth grades -- Busch taught for one year in Lisbon, Iowa.

Dwight began his professional football career as a wide receiver six years ago with the Atlanta Falcons after playing for the Hawkeyes and was acquired by the Chargers in 2001 in a pre-draft trade.

Busch said it was clear even back in 1984 that Dwight was athletically gifted.

"Athletically there was no question early on that something very special was going to happen as Tim matured into adulthood," Busch said. "There was no question his running ability was amazing."

Dwight's football career took off at Iowa City High School, where he was an All-America selection. In 1993 he was named Gatorade Circle of Champions Player of the Year. He was the first athlete to earn Mississippi Valley Conference Player of the Year honors, and as a senior he led City High to a 4A state title after setting a state record with 43 rushing touchdowns.

Dwight also excelled in track, winning 12 state, 10 Drake Relays and 15 conference titles as his team won three consecutive state championships.

At the UI, where he obtained a bachelor's degree in sports management, Dwight finished seventh in balloting for the Heisman Trophy in 1997. He was the consensus All-America selection by the Associated Press, American Football Coaches Association, Sporting News, and Football Writers Association and a national leader with a 19.3-yard punt return average in 1997. He set the Big Ten Conference career record with five punt return touchdowns and tied single-season mark with three in 1997. He led the conference in punt returns in three of four seasons and finished his college career as the conference's career leader in punt return yards, and the UI's all-time leader with 2,271 receiving yards, ranking him third with 32 touchdowns and 139 catches. He was the only player in Iowa history to surpass 1,000 career yards in receiving, punt and kickoff returns.

Dwight proved to be a valuable contributor for the Chargers in many facets last season. He was a force as a wide receiver, ball carrier, blocker and on special teams as both a kickoff and punt-returner. However, the play that Dwight will be most remembered for was the downfield block he threw to spring LaDainian Tomlinson on a 58-yard touchdown scamper, which provided the winning margin in the Chargers' 21-14 victory over the defending Super Bowl Champion New England Patriots on Sept. 14, 2002.

Busch said that she and her husband have followed closely Dwight's football career. But what impress her most about her former student are his endless contributions to the school and community in which he grew up.

In June Dwight hosted a three-day football camp in Iowa City that was attended by more than 300 children. Half of the proceeds from the camp helped support the Holden Comprehensive Cancer Center at the Children's Hospital of Iowa. The remainder of the funds from the camp went toward the Tim Dwight Scholarship Fund. It was the second year Dwight, whose sister Christine is a cancer survivor, hosted the camp.

Busch said Dwight often visits Mark Twain Elementary when he's in town and talks to the students, encouraging them to read and to become good friends and responsible citizens. She said he's created a citizenship award that rewards area junior and senior high students with a free trip to a Chargers away-game, all at no cost to the participants.

It is Dwight's commitment to giving back to his community - a philosophy she herself tries to follow - that Busch wrote about in the paperwork she was required to submit to the NFL after her nomination.

"What I really focused on with Tim was that he has given back to the community from the time he was in college, and once he started as professional player he's been giving back to community on a regular basis," she said.

NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue and the NFL clubs created the NFL Teacher Of The Year program in 1990 to honor teachers who have had a positive influence on NFL players.

"The aim of the program is to honor and recognize teachers and to encourage our young fans to think of teachers, as well as athletes, as role models," Tagliabue said.

MBNA America Bank was named the presenting sponsor of the award in 1998.

The Teacher of the Year panel of selectors includes U.S. Rep. Gary Ackerman (D-N.Y.), a former teacher; Lamar Alexander, former secretary of the U.S. Department of Education; Hal Farah, the 2002 NFL Teacher of the Year winner; Dr. Bernard Harleston, former president of City College of New York; Thomas Kean, president of Drew University; Jim Kearney, high school teacher and former NFL player; U.S. Secretary of Education Roderick R. Paige; U.S. Rep. Marge Roukema (R-N.J.), a former high school teacher in Ridgewood, N.J. and current member of the House Education and Labor Committee; NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue; Dr. Leroy T. Walker of the United States Olympic Committee; and Randi Weingarten, president of the United Federation of Teachers.

NFL Charities is a non-profit organization created in 1973 by the member clubs of the National Football League to enable the clubs to collectively make grants to charitable and worthwhile causes on the national level. Since its inception, NFL Charities has made more than $70 million in grant commitments to more than 250 different organizations.

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Services, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 371, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500.

MEDIA CONTACT: Stephen Pradarelli, 319-384-0007, stephen-pradarelli@uiowa.edu.