Nor can it be misshapen, ridiculed or discredited unless by the hand of any whose individual circumstance robbed them of the opportunity to learn through the wisdom and life’s experience of others.
These believers in education also place credit where it is assuredly due — to teachers, those who embrace the written word of the textbook and who give it a unique signature by reaching into the imagination of young minds whose potential is as vast as the skies and bright as the stars.
Simply put, education — and its quality — is all about those who teach.
It is why we continue to point to their value.
It is why many have left great legacies, such as the late Lillie Frank Fitzgerald, a dedicated English and speech instructor who raised the bar on public education at Bradley Central High School for 37 years. Her passion for teaching transcended into a love of learning by her students.
It is in her memory that her loving son and daughter-in-law, Dr. and Mrs. Rodney Fitzgerald, established the Excellence in Teaching Award through the Bradley/Cleveland Public Education Foundation. It is why we offer this reminder — that deadline for nominations for the 2012 award is Friday, March 30.
Nomination packets should be mailed to Bradley/Cleveland Public Education Foundation, P.O. Box 4354, Cleveland, TN 37320, or delivered to the organization’s office at the Star Center which is located at 5005 North Lee Highway.
All submissions are reviewed by a panel of evaluators unrelated to either the Cleveland or Bradley County school systems. Additional information about the award may be found on the Foundation’s website at www.bcpef.org.
In last Sunday’s edition, our newspaper featured the inspiring stories of the award’s first six recipients. Five have remained in the classroom. One is retired.
Their comments about receiving the award told much about their love of teaching, their respect for the award’s namesake and their staunch belief in the value of a quality education.
One is Dr. Jason Robinson who taught at Ocoee Middle School at the time of his honor. “Mrs. Fitzgerald was such an awesome teacher,” he told our newspaper. “Her legacy is just one that’s very powerful, one that has had an effect on the community.”
One is Barbara Brantley who still teaches at Valley View Elementary School. “I was just in shock [at winning the award] because Mrs. Fitzgerald was an icon in Bradley County. I was so surprised and so honored that my name would be associated with her.”
One is Sylvia Coates who teaches at the Teen Learning Center and who was Mrs. Fitzgerald’s student. “She was such a great role model ... something about winning that award inspires me to dig a little deeper and try a little harder to be the teacher she would be proud of.”
One is Victoria Pritchard who works in the homebound program for pre-K through 12th grade in Cleveland City Schools. She was last year’s recipient and also was the namesake’s student. “I never walked into her class that she didn’t meet me with a smile. She was kind. She was strict. She expected you to succeed.”
One is Luajean Bryan, a Walker Valley High School instructor. “I think what the award did for me is give me a little more of that positive push.”
One is Richard Shaw, a retired history teacher and coach at Cleveland High School. “[It] really is an honor because it is based on what teachers’ say, what administrators’ say, parents, students.”
Six award-winning teachers. Six perceptions. Six who exemplify the best in public education.
All were deserving recipients.
Others will follow.
But first, the nomination deadline — Friday, March 30.
The Lillie Frank Fitzgerald Excellence in Teaching award is a prestigious honor, one that is given to those who give so much of themselves on behalf of so many others.