But it isn’t always easy and it doesn’t come overnight.
It requires adequate funding.
It requires proper facilities and reliable infrastructure.
It requires forward-thinking leadership.
It requires school board volunteers who share a vision.
It requires commitment, and personal conviction, by all players — from support personnel to secretaries to principals to supervisory staff and all the way to school system directors or superintendents.
But most of all, quality education requires quality educators. This is a must. School systems can struggle through aging buildings, reduced budgets, limited staff, conditional support from government and community, inconsistent parental involvement and outdated materials. But teachers whose mindset is always to go beyond the extra mile are critical.
Without quality educators there can be no quality education.
As we have written before, one such educator was the late Lillie F. Fitzgerald, a 37-year English and speech instructor at Bradley Central High School. It is this impassioned, and talented, former teacher for whom an Excellence in Teaching Award is named.
And this brings us to our point.
This year’s deadline is looming for nominations for the 2012-13 Lillie F. Fitzgerald Excellence in Teaching Award. It is April 15.
The award is presented each fall during teacher in-service. One teacher from either Cleveland City Schools or Bradley County Schools is selected. With the award comes a $3,000 cash prize, but the greatest tribute is knowing that a recipient will share Mrs. Fitzgerald’s legacy to excellence in teaching.
Nomination criteria include:
1. Must be employed as a full-time, certified, K-12 teacher in Cleveland City Schools or Bradley County Schools with a minimum of five years’ experience.
2. Demonstrates a passion for teaching and inspires students with a love of learning.
3. Communicates effectively across all racial, cultural and economic backgrounds.
4. Utilizes creative, current and relevant teaching strategies.
5. Is admired and respected by students, parents and colleagues.
6. Must be involved personally in the community.
7. Embodies the spirit of teaching demonstrated by Lillie F. Fitzgerald; that is, being professional, articulate and passionate about education.
Once the deadline has passed, all nominations will be reviewed by a panel of evaluators unrelated to either school system. Complete application guidelines and additional information about the award can be found on the Bradley Cleveland Public Education Foundation website at www.bcpef.org.
BCPEF administers the annual competition each year and works in partnership with Dr. Rodney and Margo Fitzgerald who endow the award. Rodney, a former educator and now retired from Cleveland State Community College, is the son of Mrs. Fitzgerald.
In prior editions, we have extolled the virtues of this marvelous teacher and pointed to her commitment as a poster child for all educators — past, present and future.
It is through her legacy and in her honor that BCPEF presents this Excellence in Teaching Award each year.
For those still planning to nominate an educator or who want more information, we recommend visiting the BCPEF website or making a phone call.
In truth, this honor is not about the money.
It is the prestige and the comfort in knowing that the recipient embodies all that is good in education, and all that is great among educators.
We encourage haste.
The nomination deadline is Monday.