MARIETTA - As Marietta High School senior Goldy Bailey prepares to graduate later this month, her kindergarten teacher is on her mind.
That's because Bailey plans to major in early childhood education and become a kindergarten teacher herself, with her own teacher, Ginny Buzzard, as her inspiration.
"She taught me patience and kindness, things I want to model in my classroom," Bailey said.
Photo by Evan Bevins
Marietta High School senior Lydia Gebhart, left, smiles at St. Mary Elementary teacher Jill Witucky, her eighth-grade teacher, after their recognition at the 25th annual Marietta City Schools Academic Excellence Banquet Thursday at the Marietta Shrine Building.
Bailey selected Buzzard as her honored educator to be recognized with her at Marietta City Schools' 25th annual Academic Excellence Banquet Thursday at the Marietta Shrine Building. Bailey was one of 38 students with a 3.5 or higher grade-point average who shared their time in the spotlight with a teacher or mentor who had a significant impact on their life and education.
"It's very humbling. It just kind of brings you to your knees," said Buzzard, who is retired now but still works as a substitute in all four of the district's elementary schools.
Buzzard, who taught Bailey at the now-closed North Hills Elementary School, is thrilled to know she passed on her love of teaching to one of her students.
"My heart just soars," she said. "I can't wait now to help her."
Educators honored at the dinner ranged from kindergarten and elementary teachers to high school instructors, coaches and more. The selections weren't just limited to Marietta City Schools employees, with Washington County Career Center history and government teacher Ed Radcliff and St. Mary School teacher Jill Witucky among the honorees.
"She's helped me achieve a lot of goals," MHS senior Lydia Gebhart said of Witucky, her eighth-grade teacher. "By the end of the year, she was more of a friend."
Senior Hannah Taylor picked MHS study hall monitor Billie Livingston to honor in part because, "she's my buddy."
"She got me into tutoring kids, and that kind of helped interest me to want to be a teacher," Taylor said.
Livingston said other students asked specifically for Taylor to tutor them.
"She's so wonderful with working with other kids," she said.
Livingston said Taylor's intelligence and caring "gave me hope for the future."
Plus, "we made each other laugh," Livingston said.
Some students chose a teacher who sparked their interest in a subject they might not have been too keen on initially. For Shawn Cox, that was Marietta High School biology teacher Mike Miller.
"He was always so enthusiastic about teaching, about what he did," said Cox, who is considering majoring in biology at Marietta College.
Some students recalled memorable moments or teaching strategies from the educators they chose to recognize.
"When I had her, (she) would go as Coach Fleming and blow her whistle and just make it fun to learn," senior Rachael McGregor said of her eighth-grade math teacher Paige Fleming.
"I told them that they needed to look at math as a sport ... something you get better at with practice," said Fleming, who still teaches math at Marietta Middle School.
Their relationship extends outside the classroom, as Fleming is a friend of McGregor's family.
"She's just an outstanding person, so for me to be honored by her is just really special," Fleming said of McGregor, who is going into the pre-med program at Ohio University.
As high school guidance counselor James Thrash read what students had written about their chosen educators, there were tears as well as laughter in the room. Senior Justin Futrell surprised his middle school English teacher, Connie Frazier, with his essay, written in rhyme.
"I hated poetry when I had to do it, but after that I kind of learned that you can really express how you feel that way," said Futrell, who plans to attend Cornell College in Iowa.