Published on August 31, 2022 by Leighton Doores  

Samford University’s Orlean Beeson School of Education honored seven distinguished alumni, along with two esteemed friends of the school, at its annual Learning for Life awards dinner August 24. The honorees were selected based on their commitment to impact their communities and our world for Christ. 

The Learning for Life award was established in 2015 in celebration of Orlean Beeson School of Education’s 100th anniversary. The award honors outstanding education alumni that have made a significant impact in the lives of others. The event also provides financial support through tribute gifts celebrating the Kingdom work of our Orlean Beeson School of Education students, faculty, staff, alumni and friends. 

While the 2022 Learning for Life award recipients are all alumni of Orlean Beeson School of Education, their experience spans a multitude of subject fields. The 2022 honorees have served in their communities as K-12 teachers, principals, ministry leaders, business leaders and volunteers. Although their career paths are unique, they have each used their specific skillset and passion for education to invest in the lives of others.

2022 Learning for Life Honorees

  • Autumm M. Jeter ’06, ’12
  • Eden Jones-Hinds ’95, ’11
  • Becky Gordy Lehmann ’80
  • Meridith N. Starling ’00
  • Patrick White ’11, ’13
  • Amanda Wilbanks ’19

The Orlean Beeson Award was introduced in 2019 to recognize non-alumni, faculty, staff and friends who have demonstrated a steadfast commitment to serving education students and furthering the school’s mission. Named in memory of the school’s beloved benefactor and namesake, this year’s award was given to Ann and Ron Layne, both dedicated friends of Samford and Orlean Beeson School of Education.

The Excellence in Character Education Award was established in 2021 to honor a graduate who embodies Christ-like virtues and excels in advancing character education in families, schools, and communities. This year’s award was given to John Lowry ’14, director of academic programs and services for Homewood City Schools.

Scholarship recipient Micaiah Collins shared his Samford story with attendees during the dinner. Collins, a junior secondary education English major, shared with attendees that he didn’t believe that Samford would be affordable enough for him to attend. Through the generosity of those who invest in Samford students through scholarships, Collins is able to attend Samford and currently serves as the president of the Student Government Association.

“Being in this very moment, reflecting on the goodness of God, is because of Samford and those that yield so generously,” said Collins. “I am determined to invest in the lives of others, whether through service, encouragement, financially and most importantly, spiritually, because Samford did that for me. I am grateful to be a part of the Samford community and would not trade it because I continue to see the hand of God working and moving in my life.”

The award recipients were presented with a certificate and distinguished medal of honor. Following the presentation of awards, guest speaker Lindy Cleveland, founder and executive director of Unless U, shared the profound impact Orlean Beeson School of Education has had on her career. Amy Hoaglund, professor and assistant dean, provided the invocation and Monique Gardner Witherspoon, associate professor and associate dean, provided the closing prayer.

Orlean Beeson School of Education hosts the Learning for Life Awards Dinner annually. To learn more or nominate someone you know for the 2023 awards, visit

We invite you to join us in celebrating the Kingdom work of our Orlean Beeson School of Education students, faculty, staff, alumni and friends by making a tribute gift. Your gifts allow us to continually invest in the success of our students, providing scholarships and academic resources where the needs are greatest. To give, visit:

Samford is a leading Christian university offering undergraduate programs grounded in the liberal arts with an array of nationally recognized graduate and professional schools. Founded in 1841, Samford is the 87th-oldest institution of higher learning in the United States. Samford enrolls 5,791 students from 49 states, Puerto Rico and 16 countries in its 10 academic schools: arts, arts and sciences, business, divinity, education, health professions, law, nursing, pharmacy and public health. Samford fields 17 athletic teams that compete in the tradition-rich Southern Conference and ranks 6th nationally for its Graduation Success Rate among all NCAA Division I schools.