Samford University’s Orlean Bullard Beeson School of Education concluded its centennial celebration with a gala honoring 100 of its outstanding graduates.
The Learning for Life Awards were presented Nov. 7 during Samford’s 2015 homecoming weekend. Ninety-eight of the 100 honorees were either present or represented by family members. The award recipients were given medallions at a reception prior to a banquet.
The award recipients were chosen for their success in their fields and their ability to give back to their communities, according to school of education dean Jeanie Box. In addition to teachers, honorees serve in such fields as health care, early childhood development, sports administration, ministry, athletics training, child life, and family studies and human development.
In welcoming guests to the gala, Box said, “The work of educators takes courage, passion and determination. For 100 years, graduates from the school of education have been changing lives every day, making a difference for children, adolescents, adults and families.”
In the evening’s keynote address, Samford President Andrew Westmoreland congratulated the honorees as “the very best in education, not just in Alabama, but around the world.”
Westmoreland said, “I still believe after all these years that there is no nobler calling than teaching. My happiest moments in my career have been in the classroom.”
Recalling an experience with third grade teacher, Westmoreland said, “Your contributions are joyous for you and those receiving what you do. You say things that make a difference in lives.”
Educators also make contributions that are significant, and there are many ways to measure significance. He introduced Samford graduate Mandy Jayne Stanley, one of the evening’s honorees, who was the 2014 National Student Teacher of the Year.
“Mandy Jayne, like you, is one of the ways that we measure the success of what we do at Samford,” he noted to the honorees.
Finally, Westmoreland encouraged the audience to “think about the investment” made in lives through the years.
“Whatever they have done, in some measure, you have been there every step of the way,” he added. “Thank you for all you have done to make the world a better place.”
The gala also was a fundraising event for the school’s scholarship fund. Current student Brittany Bisese, representing all scholarship recipients, told about her own Samford journey that would not have been possible without financial assistance. At one point, she contemplated transferring because of financial difficulties.
“I am so grateful for the time I’ve spent at Samford and for those who have invested in me,” Bisese said. “I cannot express how grateful I am for the generous donors whose gifts allowed me to stay at Samford.”