Several Martinsville High School Big M Trophy recipients struggled Thursday to hold back emotion as they read their essays explaining why they selected teachers who most influenced them.
The occasion was the Big M Luncheon at the Dutch Inn. Thirty-two seniors earning Big M Trophies were recognized.
To receive the trophy, a senior must have a cumulative scholastic average of 3.7 or higher throughout high school, and must be enrolled in at least three academic subjects, at least one of which must be an honors course.
Big M Trophy recipients praised teachers for their knowledge and their unique, fun, engaging or inspiring teaching styles, and for their passion and patience. Trophy recipients also praised teachers for inspiring them, making them work harder and up to their potential, helping them mature and have more confidence, being a friend or like family and listening to their school and personal problems, and much more.
Recipients also praised teachers for helping give them direction, and giving them academic and life skills for the future.
A few examples of comments follow.
Cassidy Mychal Agee said MHS health occupations teacher Donna Marie Stone “believed in me when I did not believe in myself” and said one day she hopes to become as good a nurse as Stone.
“I’ve had the privilege of being taught by you two years in a row. I wish you could come and teach me next year,” Stuart Menteth Beard said of Cynthia Cowley, a math teacher at the Piedmont Governor’s School.
“Being without ‘Mama’ Tolbut will be hard. I can only hope to become half the woman you are,” said Kelsey Mareva Connor of Heather Tolbut, a history and sociology teacher at MHS.
“Music has become my life. You are greatly responsible for this,” Virginia Anderson Crabtree said of Kevin Lewis, MHS director of bands.
Travis Wade Maxey said Patrick Henry Community College motorsports instructor Denver Smith taught him, “Good is not good enough.”
Once, when Carrie Nicole Shoemaker was having a bad day, MHS English teacher Mary Ann Jennings sat on the bathroom floor with her, Shoemaker said. She described Jennings as compassionate.
Andrew Tyler Mize said he never asked MHS biology teacher Teresa Davis a question she couldn’t answer. “It was almost like she was a walking encyclopedia,” Mize said. Davis is now MHS instructional coordinator.
DeJah BabeeKaye Williams said Joe Gravely, who teaches certified nursing assistant through PHCC, taught her never to use problems as a crutch but as a stepping stool.
Elizabeth Hannah LaPrade said retired Martinsville Middle School (MMS) and MHS teacher Linda Cox taught her when things get difficult to think about past successes. Cox taught her eighth-grade civics.
Tajuana Vanessa Carter praised Donna Lowery’s “genuine love for teaching.” Lowery is an MMS seventh-grade English teacher.
Hayes Courtney Lawson said when she was a freshman she had several negative characteristics, including being disrespectful and not caring about grades. However, her sophomore year, Tina Craig (former MHS English teacher) helped her. Lawson said Craig was patient and encouraging, pushed her to do more and more and to never settle for less than what she was capable of.
Other Big M Trophy recipients and the teachers they honored follow:
Wesley Tyler Allen, K’Lecia Fountain, Brittany Renee Gill, Margaret Lee Lovell and Thomas Jordan O’Neil all honored Mary Ann Jennings.
Jesus Alberto Carrillo Llamas and Nyomi Shardaus Tarpley honored Teresa Davis.
Ashleigh Elizabeth Buck and Erika Millner honored Cynthia Cowley.
Jordan Michaela Cochran, Samantha Lyn Easley and Brooke Danielle Mason honored Kevin Lewis.
Kiana Kamil Dillard and Emmye Elizabeth Myers honored Regina Noel, formerly sixth- and seventh-grade English teacher at MMS and now instructional coordinator there.
Guadalupe Corona honored Joe Johnson, math teacher at the Governor’s School.
Helen Montrea Danielle Martin honored Devon Wall, MHS history teacher.
Marnié J. Martin and Abby LeAnne Ozbun honored Tamara Stone, former MHS math teacher.
Austin Alexander White honored Barbara Stanley, gifted coordinator at Patrick Henry Elementary.
Tristan Brooke Wooldridge honored Alton Moore, soccer coach.
Big M Trophy recipient Michael Allen Sexton was not present at the banquet.
School division officials explained that five students, one of whom was Sexton, were not originally included as Big M Trophy recipients because of an error involving weighting certain advanced classes in grade point averages. That is being corrected, Superintendent Pam Heath said.
During her closing remarks at the luncheon, Heath talked about and showed a commercial from Apple’s 1997 “Think Different” advertising campaign. It contains the line, “Because the people who think they can change the world, are the ones who do.”
She encouraged Big M recipients: “Be good. Be honest. Be ethical. Be you. Don’t label (others). Don’t be afraid to be labeled.”
Mary Ann Jennings said after the program: “It’s always humbling to be honored. As much as I’ve inspired them, it has inspired me to be a better teacher.”
About 120 people attended the event.