Big M winners pay tribute to most influential teachers

June 10, 2011

By ASHLEY JACKSON - Bulletin Staff Writer

Twenty-nine Martinsville High School seniors honored their most influential teachers Thursday during the Big M Awards luncheon.

The seniors are this year’s recipients of the Big M trophy, which is given to students who have cumulative scholastic averages of 3.7 or higher for their high school careers. They also must be enrolled in three or more academic subjects, one of which must be an honors course.

Each student gave a speech to parents, teachers and others gathered at the Dutch Inn. Some students laughed and some cried while honoring their teachers.

Courtney Bennett honored Martinsville High band director Kevin Lewis, who was honored by two other students as well.

“Mr. Lewis is a second father to me,” Bennett said. Lewis doesn’t just teach the students, he prepares them for the real world, she said, adding that getting to go to band class was at times the only reason she got out of bed in the mornings.

“It’s especially gratifying to be rewarded and to know that you made a difference,” Lewis said.

“The awards are very special, and to know that you influenced at least one (student) means a lot,” said biology teacher Teresa Davis, who Úwas honored by three students. “It’s hard to see them (the students) go.”

“You are one of the few people I will never forget no matter where I go,” Kenzie Campbell said to Davis. “You gave me the courage to become who I wanted to be.”

During the ceremony, many students expressed gratitude to their teachers.

“Thank you for believing in me ... I want to be a shining star like you,” said Alicia Murray, who honored English teacher Mary Ann Jennings.

Many students considered their teachers friends.

“I call him a friend of mine,” Edgar Boyzo said of world history and sociology teacher Stuart Cox. “He never gave up on me. He saw potential in me when I didn’t,” Edgar said.

“I expect more out of myself because of Mr. Dean and that if you want something, you have to fight for it,” Jessica Li said while speaking about her most influential teacher, history teacher Gregg Dean.

Tom Fitzgibbons, who was principal at Martinsville High from 1998 to 2010, was honored by three students.

“He is simply a fantastic person to be around,” said Stephen Eason. Stephen said Fitzgibbons was a principal who operated with a “clean slate of fairness.”

James Moore III, who also honored Fitzgibbons, said Fitzgibbons was friendly and always made an extra effort to get to know students.

Toward the end of the ceremony, all of the seniors gathered to present Fitzgibbons with an award of gratitude.

“It (the award) was surprising, and I am appreciative to the staff and students ... they were a terrific group to work with,” said Fitzgibbons, who now works in the system’s central office.

The ceremony closed with a message from Pam Heath, superintendent of the city schools, congratulating the students on their accomplishments and recognizing the proud parents present.

“You have made it,” she said, referring to the students and the parents.

Students who received Big M Awards and the teachers they honored are: Jordan Paul Anderson, teacher Stuart Cox; Courtney Renee Bennett, teacher Kevin Lewis; Edgar Boyzo, Cox; Kenzie Elizabeth Campbell, teacher Teresa Davis; Rita Yareli Carrillo-Tamayo, teacher Sandra Swyers; Susan Gati Chacha, Swyers; Evelyn Aiken Clark, teacher Carolyn Hairston; Melia Taylor Dickerson, teacher Mary Ann Jennings; Stephen Paul Eason, principal Tom Fitzgibbons; Brody William Edwards, teacher Kim Lawson; Tristan Danielle France, Davis; Parker Andrew Gunn, teacher Tammy Stone; Bryana Kiante Hairston, Jennings; Patrick Stephan Halpin, Lewis; Mary Grace Elizabeth Hankins, teacher Cynthia Cowley; Audria Jude Hezbor, Lewis; Blaire Cristyn Hughes, Hairston; Blake Colton Hughes, Hairston; Jessica Kinyen Li, teacher Gregg Dean; Kyle Pierce Loganadan, Stone; Chanhong Luu, Jennings; Brian Millner, Fitzgibbons; Joshua Ramie Mize, Stone; James Peyton Moore III, Fitzgibbons; Alicia Marie Murray, Jennings; Cherubino “Kerry” Richard Pacifico, teacher Leslie Barger; Harsh Hemant Patel, Swyers; Ryan Leslie Reynolds, teacher Christy Sellers; and Hailey Rebecca Richardson, Davis.


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