College graduations are occurring every weekend and public schools are winding down as we all look forward to the lazy days of summer – if we can catch a break from mowing the grass. Almost daily rains are keeping folks busy, but how wonderful and green everything looks.
Speaking of the end of the school year, we have two notes today about recent honors for teachers: Nancy Gardner and Rich Richards. Around Davidson also visits with library volunteers and has news of an award for Jean Berg.
SAY “THANKS” AT THE LIBRARY
A budget crunch hit our Charlotte-Mecklenburg Library System a few years ago and many branches drastically reduced hours. The Davidson branch was one of the first to add back hours thanks to 28 volunteers who give generously of their time. They sort and shelve books, hang art, assist with book sales and any other task they’re assigned. The Davidson volunteers average 186 hours a month and today we have a photo of many of them.
Take a look at the faces – ranging from college students to retired story tellers – and next time you see one of these volunteers, be sure to say thank you. Also be on the lookout for an energetic group of 10 teenagers who will be helping at our branch this summer. Kudos to the paid staff of Ellen Giduz, Beverly Swanson, Rosie Chapman and Kelly Nicholson who do the hard jobs of keeping all these “worker-bees” productive and happy!
TEACHING IS WHAT THEY DO – and THEY ARE GOOD AT IT!
Two Davidsonians who are teachers recently have been in the news. One has over 25 years experience; the other has just one year. We salute both today.
Early last month, Nancy Smith Gardner of Davidson was profiled on the website LearningMatters.tv, speaking about why she teaches as a part of a program called “Why I Teach: Educators share their stories.” Nancy, mother of three and grandmother of two, is a National Board Certified Teacher with more than 26 years’ experience in grades 7-12. Currently she is a senior English teacher at Mooresville High School.
We always hear about teacher burn-out but Nancy seems to thrive on the 10-hour and longer days, with the comment, “I really do love my job.” Her students always thank her for teaching them but as Nancy says, she should thank them for teaching her. She also mentions that one must have a sense of humor as a teacher with the following marvelous example: “When a student writes, ‘I have learned a lot in a warm and neutering environment,’ you have to laugh.” For more about Nancy’s comments on teaching, go to WhyITeach.LearningMatters.tv.
Rich Richards grew up in Davidson, graduated from Alabama, and has just finished his first year as a Teach for America Corps Member. At the recommendation of a fraternity friend, he applied to this program during his junior year in college and was accepted in the summer of 2010 with the assignment that he would teach math. Not majoring in math at Alabama, he completed coursework during his senior year and passed the Tennessee math teacher proficiency test on his own in 2011. Following graduation, he met other Teach for America young people for a six-week program in Mississippi learning the “ropes of teaching,” before landing in Nashville with two weeks to find housing and get settled before the start of classes last August.
For this academic year, Rich has taught math to fifth graders at Nashville Prep, a new charter school in Nashville. An inner city school, there are currently 100 youngsters finishing fifth grade with plans to add grades 6-12 over the next seven years. In his first year in the classroom, Rich was recognized as one of 10 finalists for the 2012 Charter Teacher of the Year with the Tennessee Charter Schools. Although he was not named the top winner in his middle school category, we applaud his nomination and his enthusiasm not only to continue by teaching summer school at Nashville Prep this summer but also to take on added responsibilities as fifth grade coordinator at the school next year.
What an accomplishment for this young man, the son of Mary Lib and Jim Richards of the St. Alban’s neighborhood. Mom and Dad drove to Nashville for the Charter School Teacher of the Year Gala held on May 11 at the Union Station Hotel. They stayed over for the Mother’s Day weekend as well.
While visiting with the Richards, just had to hear what Rich’s younger brother, Jip, is doing. With his sophomore year behind him at Davidson College, Jip is continuing to play baseball and thanks to Coach Dick Cook was placed this summer with the Martha’s Vineyard Sharks (last summer he played in Hawaii). The Sharks include players from college baseball programs around the US and will play a regular-season 54 game schedule from June 8 through August 9. He will stay with a host family on the island.
RECOGNIZING JEAN BERG
Jean Berg of The Pines got a surprise email this past March telling her that she had been named one of 1,054 women honored by the National Council of Churches. Women, including Christian, Muslim and Jewish leaders, whose lives and ministries had a major impact on their local communities or who had inspired another’s faith journey were honored in the Circles of Names Campaign. Congratulations, Jean.
A graduate of Eden Theological Seminary, Jean has long worked and even chaired The Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice including years as the Executive Director for the Coalition in the State of Missouri. She has worked tirelessly promoting social justice and women’s rights to make their own reproductive choices.
When her husband Dick retired from the United Way in St. Louis, they couple moved to Cozumel, Mexico, built a home, learned Spanish and Jean used her seminary degree to perform weddings, blessing, renewals and memorial services – mostly on the beach. This even led to her book, “Saying I Do in Paradise.” The Pines in Davidson became their home in October 2009. Their grown sons live in Durham and Washington, D.C.
Widowed last year after almost 55 years of marriage, and with her recent honor in hand, Jean is thinking again how she might help others. Brushing up on her Spanish, she plans to travel to Nicaragua this fall to a small town outside Managua where she will teach Spanish to volunteers, English in the schools and volunteer at an orphanage. We look forward to hearing much more about this very energetic member of our community!
SEND US YOUR NEWS
Have news for Around Davidson? Write to Brenda Barger at firstname.lastname@example.org.