Friends, family, and fellow teachers gathered at the Orlando Gardens Banquet Center on Thursday night to recognize the hard work of 14 outstanding Affton educators. The Eighth Annual Exceptional Educators Awards Banquet was organized by the .
The and school districts, , , Our Lady of Providence, , , and were all represented.
“These educators teach our children to read, they teach them how to be people of character,” said awards presenter Ann Bollone of St. Anthony’s Medical Center. “And these children grow up to be strong community members. I’m sure a lot of our people at the medical center grew up and got their education here from these teachers.”
Teachers were recognized for all aspects of their job, which reach far beyond the classroom.
Patricia Mudd of Bayless Senior High School was recognized for her work with the Bayless High School Art Club. This year, the club produced an award-winning parade float as well as a that featured student art and raised money for the Haitian Education Alliance.
Paula Gyllenborg of was recognized for her 25 years of teaching in Saint Louis University’s 1-8-1-8 Advanced College Credit Program, in addition to being recognized as the district’s recipient of the 2010 Emerson Excellence in Teaching award.
Doug Harness of was recognized for his initiative with the school’s character and leadership class, and for paving the way to help make Bayless Jr. High a National and Missouri School of Character.
In addition to awardees being honored for going the proverbial extra mile, Lydia Ross of , who lives more than an hour away, was also recognized for going the extra mile literally.
“I do have a very long drive to work,” Ross said. “But I grew up in a close-knit community, and to come to Affton every day is like going home.”
Honorees shared anecdotes from the classroom and the area at large, all of them speaking of pride in their students. Shannon Kamp of incited laughter with a poem she wrote, "If I Were in Charge of the World," hailing the end of bad attitudes and of standardized testing.
And several honorees shared stories of the teachers who changed their lives and inspired their future careers. Brian Lind of Lutheran High School South followed in the footsteps of his parents, who both taught at his grade school.
“There’s always that one teacher who makes you want to teach when you grow up,” Lind said. “I hope to hear that from some of my students one day. I think that’s the greatest honor a teacher can have.”
Click through our photo gallery to see the other honorees.