That which makes education viable is twofold — the quality of instruction and commitment of its instructors, and the dedication of volunteers whose unpaid sacrifices benefit not just the schools, but the students, the teachers, the administrators, local governments and the surrounding community.
Volunteers truly are the unseen arm to successful educational endeavors whether their toils take place on-site during school hours or off-campus after the established work day has drawn to a close.
Their value to young minds and the fine institutions that embrace them became part of the spotlight at a recent function of a respected school that some might consider “Hidden Cleveland” at its finest. We speak of Tennessee Christian Preparatory School, a K-12 nondenominational institution located on the former Tomlinson College campus on North Lee Highway.
Some might be surprised to learn TCPS has served as an educational contributor to our community since 1997. The school currently enrolls some 250 students.
At its recent fifth annual Presidential Celebration, TCPS reached out to those who are making a difference in the lives of the school’s students by supporting the facility’s impressive academic programming and its ongoing mission.
As mentioned in Tuesday’s editorial, one was state Rep. Kevin Brooks, R-Cleveland representing the 24th Legislative District, who received the TCPS Spirit of Service Award.
But another notable presentation was made to Melanie Stout, a key volunteer whose untiring efforts on the school’s behalf have inspired TCPS to present her with the “Fourth Person Award.” Effective this year, the “Fourth Person” will be bestowed upon a committed volunteer whose work exceeds all expectations and who consistently strives to go the extra mile in being of service to the school and the students it has been entrusted to educate.
We are impressed with the manner in which TCPS President Dr. Bill Balzano explained the objective of the award and the reasoning behind its naming.
According to Balzano, a visionary whose quest for education quality is matched by few, the person to whom the “Fourth Person Award” is bestowed is a tireless worker whose impact is as obvious as it is endearing to the school, its students and its vast league of supporters.
Its naming is based on a Bible story — that of Shadrach, Neeshach and Abednego who were thrown into a fiery furnace.
Balzano explains it best.
“There was a fourth person who went into the fire to serve, and that’s the genesis for the Fourth Person Award,” he offered at the Presidential Celebration.
It is a fitting recognition for those who place the needs of young minds, and outreaching schools, ahead of their own. Melanie Stout is one such volunteer. Future “Fourth Person” awards will be presented in her honor.
The president described the inaugural award recipient as a volunteer who has “inspired, blessed and unleashed the administration to fulfill the mission and vision of Tennessee Christian Preparatory School.”
Balzano, who is rightfully proud of his facility and the growing student body for whom it serves, believes in time TCPS will become a dominant force in educational quality. He offered as evidence the ongoing trials facing education — at all levels — such as turmoil and upheaval forced by academic, social, financial and political change.
We congratulate Tennessee Christian Preparatory School on its award selections and for nurturing the inner drive that is necessary in today’s society for not only meeting education’s mandates, but far exceeding them.
TCPS is obviously preparing for the future as evidenced by the president’s closing remark, “Come join us. It’s an exciting place to be, and we ask you to jump on the train. It’s leaving the station.”