Teacher of the Year Banquet - For the past three years, Public Education Partners has been proud to provide a banquet to honor the Aiken County Teachers of the Year. Dr. Robert Stowell, Vice-Chair/Chair Elect of Public Education Partners, spoke at the 2002 banquet on the Theme, Teachers Build America. Dr. Stowell is the retired superintendent of Berkeley Heights School District, Berkeley Heights, New Jersey. Here is the text of his speech, given September 17, 2002:
Good evening, ladies and gentlemen. Let me express a special welcome to the thirty-eight teachers whom we have the privilege of honoring tonight, and an expanded welcome to their support staff: their spouses, their children, their families, their friends, their peers, their administrators and certainly this School Board.
It has been my experience that every Teacher of the Year is quick to point out that they are pleased to be selected but that they feel they represent the hundreds and thousands of teachers who also deserve to be honored. But tonight, let us be proud to focus on this exceptional group of educators who have more than earned this moment of recognition.
The theme for tonight is TEACHERS BUILD AMERICA.
TEACHERS BUILD AMERICA! I am struck by the enormity of that claim. I wonder if this audience, in this room, has gathered here tonight because we believe so strongly in this basic truth.
If we were to think about all the basic institutions that have made this country great, we would certainly reflect on our families, our churches, and our democracy. Yet, each has undergone significant changes.
Some of these changes have undermined our need for inherent commonalities that have always made us strong. In our acknowledgment of diversity and the need of the American spirit to grant individuality to each generation, we have allowed our historically strong school system to become part of that change.
We still give our pledge to the flag of these United States of America, of one country, under God, indivisible. That pledge, to not be divided, but to remain as one united people, rests heavily on the shoulders of those we honor tonight.
The only remaining institution in the United States of America that continues to provide a common touchstone of language and history as well as an educated citizenry is the public school system. It takes all comers, that is, all races, all nationalities, all levels of intelligence from children with special needs to the brightest in the world, all levels of wealth from the richest to the poorest, and all levels of behavior from the very best to the most challenging.
Yes, TEACHERS DO BUILD AMERICA AND PUBLIC SCHOOLS.
Teachers are the front line of binding this nation together at its very foundation.
Tonight it is with great joy that we take this time to honor a few of the people who are in this battle that makes America great.
These teachers give far more than they can ever be recompensed for. They begin early every morning, deal with hundreds of decisions every teaching period, carry home hours of work every evening, give up weekends and summers to prepare for their students and to continue their own educational programs, make sacrifices related to their own families, and yet return each year because they know that they are making a positive difference in the lives of the children that they touch every day.
Public Education Partners is proud to sponsor this dinner and this time of honoring our teachers. We are a group of volunteers whose goal is to support what these outstanding teachers are doing every day and every year in creating a greater Aiken, a greater South Carolina, and a great United States of America. We thank you!
2003 Summer Institute: Bridges to our Health and Human Services Network June 10-14, 2003 at USC-Aiken Campus
This is the third year in which the community will offer an education program designed for teachers, counselors and other school personnel.
Goals of the Institute:
Provide participants with a broad overview and a deeper understanding of the health and human services network in Aiken County .
Give teachers, counselors and other school personnel new knowledge, skills, tools and resources to help troubled, high-risk children and adolescents and their families.
Address some of the most difficult questions about self-damaging and risky behaviors so often seen in children and adolescents today.
Build a team of helping professionals and volunteers for each teacher and school.
Create an opportunity for shared learning, so that area health and human services leaders also learn how to support, communicate with and meet the needs of colleagues in schools, thereby improving the quality of our collective services to children, adolescents and families.
Sponsors for the 2003 Institute:
Aiken-Barnwell Mental Health Center
Aiken Center for Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse Services
Aiken County Council for the Prevention of Teen Pregnancy
Children’s Place, Inc.
Coalition for a Tobacco-Free Aiken County
The Mental Health Association in Aiken County
Public Education Partners
United Way of Aiken County and its Community Leaders Council
University of South Carolina-Aiken