Whitman biology teacher and wrestling coach James Douglass was chosen as the first monthly winner of the NFL Teacher Award Program.

He was nominated by Green Bay quarterback and former Whitman standout Anthony Dilweg. The NFL will present Douglass a $2,500 grant and donate $5,000 to a scholarship fund in the names of Douglass and Dilweg.

"Mr. Douglass took a very unique approach to education," Dilweg wrote in his nomination letter. "He made class very competitive and fun. This teacher is special because he treated everyone like an individual."

Douglass and Dilweg first met in 1982 when Dilweg was his 10th-grade biology student. Dilweg later became his student assistant.

"I consider myself a teacher who educates the whole student," said Douglass. "My concern for my students as growing persons, instead of as little scientists, leads me to become important in their lives, just as I became important to Anthony."

The award program was initiated this year by Commissioner Paul Tagliabue to "recognize and encourage quality education." At the end of the season, an NFL teacher of the year will be named and honored with a $5,000 cash award and $10,000 will be presented to the school's scholarship fund.