A Deseret News series on teacher morale by education editor Twila Van Leer and education writer Angelyn Nelson Hutchinson is an award winner in a national education-writing contest sponsored by the National Association of Secondary School Principals.

"Teachers' Pet Peeves," a four-part series that ran in the newspaper Aug. 28-31, received an honorable mention in the association's eighth annual Benjamin Fine Journalism Awards competition. The competition is named for Pultizer Prize winner Benjamin Fine, who covered education for the New York Times for 25 years.The award was announced Sunday during the association's annual convention in New Orleans. The association is a national organization of 41,000 secondary school administrators and university educational administration professors.

Association spokeswoman Nancy Burk said a panel of nine working journalists selected the Deseret News stories for special recognition in the series category for newspapers of its size. Usually only one winner is chosen in each category, but the judges can designate an honorable mention in a category if they decide it is warranted, she said.

Winner in the same newspaper category was the Bucks County Courier Times, Richboro, Pa. The grand prize winner among the 18 newspaper and magazine categories was a series, "Chicago Schools: Worst in America," by the Chicago Tribune.

Van Leer and Hutchinson researched and wrote their series after a national report issued by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teachers showed Utah school teachers' morale is the lowest in the country.

The reporters randomly polled 1,000 Utah teachers statewide and then used the results as the basis for their series. The stories looked in depth at problems listed most often by teachers - classroom size, salaries and teacher training programs.