MOUNT VERNON — Top students in the county gathered Wednesday to honor those teachers who have been an inspiration to them.
The Excellence in Education program, sponsored by the Knox County Educational Service Center, spotlights two outstanding scholars from each of the county schools, and the students applaud teachers who have made a difference in their lives and served as an inspiration to them.
The program opened with a welcome by KCESC consultant Bonny Buffington, who said she believes in miracles. She explained why, then told the teachers that her miracle is a small one compared to what they do.
“The miracle that what you do every day — teaching — changes lives,” Buffington said.
KCESC board president Nancy Holtrey and vice president Richard McLarnan introduced each honor student, who then presented a plaque to his or her favorite teacher.
Retired Danville teacher Paula Boeshart was honored by student Garrett Blue. Blue said he learned about academic subjects in Boeshart’s fourth-grade class, and subsequently middle school math class, and also learned about life.
“I could talk to her about everything,” he said. “She was always there for me and was a positive influence in my life.”
Tracy Payne, DHS, said she has been inspired by science teacher Brian Ackert.
“He does an excellent job preparing students for college,” Payne said. “He has high expectations, and motivates and encourages students to reach for the next level. ... He leads by example.”
Tom Lubera, English teacher at East Knox High School, was lauded by Faith Cook. Cook said Lubera has a gift for getting students excited about what he is teaching, even if it is diagramming sentences.
“He really cares about students,” she continued, “and is special, too, because he has puns relevant to everything.”
Steven Lilley Jr., also from EKHS, nominated high school math teacher Beverly Sivits. He said Sivits is a teacher who goes beyond the call of duty to help a student succeed.
“It’s amazing some of the math problems she can solve,” he added. “She’s one of the greatest teachers I ever had.”
Fredericktown’s Gary Gregg recognized high school vocational agriculture instructor Dan Raubenolt, who was unable to attend. Gregg said that without “Mr. R.’s” influence, he wouldn’t have been unable to stand in front of the group and speak.
“Mr. R. relates to me,” Gregg said. “He has a great sense of humor and has been there for more than just education. ... I hope what I do is half of what he has done for me.”
Derek Scott, FHS, named social studies teacher Ken Conaway as most influential in his life.
“He is the first teacher who interested me in history,” Scott said. “He taught us all to see things from a different perspective.”
Representing Mount Vernon High School, Chloe Coleman said junior high math teacher Jim Marth had an impact on her life.
“He actually gave me an affection for mathematics,” she said. “He spoke my language and explained things clearly and helped me become more confident in myself. He helped me solve more than just mathematical problems.”
Kimberly Shaffer, also from MVHS, paid tribute to high school art instructor Deanna Badger. Besides being an excellent art teacher, Shaffer said, Badger has a selfless attitude, a kind spirit and really cares about students.
“She gives each student value and respect,” Shaffer said, “and always reminds us to make wise choices.”
Knox County Career Center student Melissa Clark identified Mount Vernon High School science instructor Bonnie Schutte as a mentor.
“She might push us hard,” Clark said, “but she also encourages our dreams. She gives us inspiration as well as a push. ... She makes real the saying, ‘The dream begins with a teacher who believes in you.’”
Connor Darsee, KCCC, chose to honor Bob Geiger, Career-based Intervention-10 teacher at the career center. Geiger, he said, was always understanding, helpful and encouraging, inside the classroom and out.
“I could come to him for anything,” Darsee said.
Centerburg High School’s student and teacher honorees were unable to attend the program. They included Spanish teacher Will Gentry, nominated by Aaron Pospisil, and science instructor Gregg Gundy, nominated by Patrick Schuster.