Karen Mendon's goal as a teacher has long been to encourage her students to accomplish something they've never done before and get recognition for it.
Now Mendon, a physical education teacher, will be recognized nationwide as one of two Los Angeles educators among 36 finalists chosen for the sixth annual 1995 American Teacher Awards sponsored by the Walt Disney Co. and McDonald's.
Mendon, who has taught for 23 years at Montebello Intermediate School in Montebello, and Excell Hunter, a general elementary teacher at Buchanan Street Elementary's Magnet Center in Highland Park, were selected from among hundreds of applicants nationwide.
Mendon and Hunter each will get a cash prize of $2,500. Final awards will be given Nov. 1 to one outstanding teacher in each of 12 subject categories, and contestants will also vote for an Outstanding Teacher of 1995.