MONROE – The Union County Education Foundation gave 10 scholarship winners an opportunity to pay tribute to the teachers that most influenced their lives.
The foundation not only played the two-minute video submissions during its Sweet Salute event May 14 on its Facebook page, but the program also included thoughts from the nominated teachers.
Here’s a summary of what students said in their videos:
Evan Schmitt, CATA
Schmitt recalled how Ethan King told students to count each time the camera angle changed in a “Back to the Future” scene to show the intricacies of filmmaking. Schmitt valued the ability to bounce ideas off his film teacher. “Every time I came up with an idea for countless projects that he gave us, he tried to push my boundaries on what was possible,” Schmitt said.
Olivia Seighman, CATA
Seighman described dance teacher Alison Cyphers as a gorgeous dancer, talented choreographer and a second mom who didn’t mind if her “dance babies” took photos of her with various Snapchat filters. “She has opened my eyes to so much and I wouldn’t be the artist I am now if it wasn’t for her,” Seighman said.
Jessica Guion, Forest Hills
Guion learned from Jennifer Whitley how differentiation helps all students be successful. “Miss Whitley was the absolute best in making sure all of her students were successful according to their abilities,” Guion said. She mentioned how Whitley provided test prep for juniors, served as a club advisor and cheerleading coach, and advocated for public education.
Katie Helms, Forest Hills
Helms admits it took time to understand and love engineering. Tim Stegall taught her that challenges spark innovation. “He taught me that engineering was a great key, unlocking doors for students who wanted to innovate, create and discover,” Helms said. Helms will study mechanical engineering in the fall at N.C. State University.
Kohen Goble, Marvin Ridge
Goble’s tribute video paid homage to “The Bachelor,” with teachers earning apples instead of roses. Advanced Placement History teacher Justin Jones won all the apples. Goble described Jones as a role model and confidence-builder. His classroom was educational and entertaining, as well as a place where Goble felt he belonged.
Samantha Venturo, Marvin Ridge
Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin’” served as the soundtrack to Venturo’s tribute to marketing education teacher Lisa Hall. She helped Venturo cope with not playing sports her freshman year and encouraged her to join DECA, which built confidence. “Miss Hall never stopped believing in me and I know she will continue to believe in anyone else who crosses her path,” Venturo said.
Brittney Thompson, Piedmont
Thompson recalled entering Juliet Banning’s kindergarten class at New Salem Elementary 13 years ago. Banning comforted her during the first day of school with the book, “The Kissing Hand.” Thompson is now pursuing a career in teaching. She recruited other students impacted by Banning for the tribute, including a member of the Class of 2033.
Nicole Cristy, Porter Ridge
Words alone could not describe the impact math teacher Jennie Yearick had on Cristy, so the graduating senior wrote and starred in a music video set to the tune of “Baby” by Justin Bieber and Ludacris. Some of the rap bars include “You know she is amazing cuz she got my grades raising; And now my heart is breaking, because I have to graduate.”
Samuel O’Grady, Sun Valley
O’Grady presented the Academy Award of teaching to speech therapist Chris Antony. O’Grady has worked with Antony since the sixth grade. She not only has challenged and pushed him to make new friends and communicate better, but she has also supported him by going to after-school events and helping him get his first job.
Kaitlyn Wesley, Sun Valley
Wesley explained how Adam Tarlton’s passion for teaching motivated students in English I, II and III classes. But his compassionate mentorship also resonated with her. She recited a message he’d tell students every Friday: “Have a good weekend, make good choices, wear your seat belts, bring back your fingers and toes, and remember you matter.”