The Bullard Education Foundation honored the academic successes of several distinguished Bullard High School students, as well as the hard work of teachers, at the annual BEF Achievement Recognition Banquet Tuesday, May 15, at Hollytree Country Club in Tyler.
“We were very excited to host great students and teachers from Bullard High School at this year’s BEF banquet,” said Erin Thiem, BEF president. “It’s just an amazing experience to not only award scholarship money to very deserving students, but to also have some of these students speak about the impact the great teachers at Bullard ISD have made in their lives. We’re truly blessed to be a part of a great relationship between BEF and Bullard ISD, and wish these students great success in their future endeavors.”
At the banquet event, BEF presented a total of $8,000 in college scholarships to 14 members of the BHS Class of 2017, including $500 scholarships to John Campbell, Destinee Dixon, Brandon Duecker, Levi Ehrman, Megan McCoy, Ethan Medley, Sarah Peters, Cora Pudwill, Ally Rhodes, Macy Riley, Marissa Self, and Jarrett Whatley, while also presenting $1,000 scholarships to Reagan Brasher and MacKenzie Pyle.
BEF also recognized the hard work and dedication of a total of 16 BHS teachers. Each teacher was nominated by students, who were required to write an essay explaining how the teacher has affected them during their time at BHS.
Senior Maddie Grace Beam chose to recognize her mother, Bullard High School English I teacher Sara Beam, saying that her mother had a large impact on her education, despite never being her teacher in high school.
“I chose Mrs Beam as the teacher who has “impacted my life the most” over my high school and educational career,” said Maddie Grace Beam, in her nomination letter. “Fun fact: Mrs. Beam was never actually my teacher, and yet I always found myself in her classroom before and after school, and even in between some of my classes. The kicker here is that she is my mother… This woman supports me and loves me through everything, from class work to emotional breakdowns, even though those two are not very far apart… She wasn’t just a teacher on my campus; she was the role model that I got to take home with me.”
After graduation, Maddie Grace Beam plans to attend Tyler Junior College and major in theatre.
Senior Lillian Bloxom took time to honor the impact Bullard High School twirling sponsor Jeri Coke has made in her life.
“I have known Mrs. Coke for about seven years now,” said Bloxom, in her nomination letter. “She has helped me both on and off the field, helping me improve as a twirler and helping me make the right decisions in life. She has become like a second mother to me and I know she will always be there if I need any help and will do as much as she can do to help me, and I would do the same for her… She is truly an amazing person and I am so glad I had the opportunity to know her all these years and I am so thankful she has been a part of my life.”
After graduation, Bloxom plans to attend Texas A&M University in College Station and major in engineering.
Senior Reagan Brasher selected to honor the contributions of BHS anatomy teacher Diana Turner on her life, saying that she desired to be in Turner’s class during her senior year.
“Mrs. Turner has always been a teacher that upholds an outstanding reputation for the lasting impact she leaves on her students,” said Brasher, in her nomination letter. “I knew without a doubt that taking Anatomy with Mrs. Turner was a class I wouldn’t want to miss. [She] truly has a passion for teaching and her students that shows in everything she does… I am extremely blessed to have had her as a teacher and could not say thank you enough for the lasting impact she has had on me.”
After graduation, Brasher plans to attend TJC and major in general studies.
Bullard High School assistant principal John Dixon was honored by senior Faith Crist at the event, saying Dixon’s impact on her life began when she was a student at Bullard Middle School.
“Coach Dixon has been a part of my life since the seventh grade,” said Crist, in her nomination letter. “He started out as my basketball coach and I immediately came to realize he wasn’t just a great coach, he is a genuinely great person, as well. I learned he is a man of his word, a man of God, and someone everyone should look up to. .. Thank you for always being there for me when I needed you and for never failing to believe in me.”
After graduation, Crist plans to atted the University of Texas at Tyler and major in pharmacy.
Senior Lawrence De Vera spoke to attendees about his teacher nominee, Bullard High School choir director Kerry Baham, saying Baham was key in transitioning to BHS from overseas.
“One of the teachers in my school that shaped me as a well-rounded person throughout my years in Bullard is Kerry Baham,” said De Vera, in his nomination letter. “I have lived most of my life in the Phillipines. I came to the United States my freshman year… Kerry Baham was the tteacher who helped me find my place in school.[He] is a person who possesses wisdom and knowledge. He is great not only as a choir director, but also as a teacher… His presence has made me a better person.”
After graduation, De Vera plans to attend UT Tyler and major in electrical engineering.
Also honored at the BEF banquet was BHS health science teacher Whitney Scruggs, nominated by senior Abbie Denman.
“Ever since I was in the fifth grade, I have always wanted to go into the medical field,” said Denman, in her nomination letter. “My freshman year, I had Mrs. Scruggs as my health science teacher and she made me look forward to being a doctor even more. She always made her class so entertaining and it kept it interesting… Mrs. Scruggs puts her students and other people before herself and would do anything to help others in need.”
After graduation, Denman plans to attend Texas A&M University and major in allied health.
Senior Brandon Duecker spoke about his teacher nominee at the banquet, BHS Director of Bands Gary Jordan, whom Duecker credits with developing him into a skilled musician.
“Mr. Jordan has influenced me in many ways,” said Duecker, in his nomination letter. “One of the most important things that he enlightened me with is that no matter what, hard work will triumph over all obstacles… Mr. Jordan would make me practice and listen to me regularly to see how I was doing. This constant training and practicing was mundane and was boring down to the very core, but it proved to be worth it.”
After graduation, Duecker plans to attend Northwestern State University in Natchitoches, La., and major in music education.
BHS chemistry teacher Randy Lloyd was recognized at the BEF banquet, saying that Lloyd’s teaching methods helped to make a complicated subject easier to understand.
“Mr. Lloyd is one of the most excellent teachers I have had at Bullard High School,” said Ehrman, in his nomination letter. Mr. Lloyd has made a difficult topic such as chemistry much more bearable and understandable in every way possible, and it’s why he is one of my favorite teachers and friends.”
After graduation, Ehrman plans to attend Texas A&M University and major in biomedical engineering.
Senior Jacob Garrett also paid homage to BHS assistant principal John Dixon, as Garrett said Dixon was the reason he will graduate this year.
“A month into my senior year, I dropped out of high school,” said Dixon, in his nomination letter. “I went a year after that doing what I wanted to do by not what I needed to do. I remembered what me and Coach Dixon had talked about and not long after, I found out about the PRIDE program. It felt like God was pushing me. If it wasn’t for Coach Dixon, ALL PRIDE staff, and God, I don’t think I’d be a high school graduate.”
After graduation, Garrett plans to attend TJC and major in early childhood education.
Additionally, BHS assistant principal Chris Pawlak was recognized for making an impact in the life of senior Nicole Jones by serving as her cross country coach.
“Coach P worked with me around all the countless injuries, FFA contests, and livestock shows throughout the seasons,” said Jones, in her nomination letter. “Coach P turned this sport into the one I loved most. In fact, it was the only sport I participated in throughout all four years of high school. To this day, he still supports me in all of my FFA involvements, cross country meets, and future goals.”
After graduation, Jones plans to attend Texas A&M University and major in animal science.
Senior Katy Kuczkowski took the time to pay respects to BHS band director Jordan, stating that she hopes to become like him as an adult.
“Despite having over 100 kids in class, Mr. Jordan manages to have a personal relationship with each of his students,” said Kuczkowski, in her nomination letter. “His work ethic and energy surpass everyone else that I know, including his students. Mr. Jordan is a very motivated, driven man that I aspire to be like as I grow older. I know that I would not be the person I am today had Mr. Jordan not been a part of my education and life.”
After graduation, Kuczkowski plans to attend Texas A&M University and major in biomedical engineering.
BHS office receptionist Carmen Greene’s impact on students was highlighted by senior and Class of 2018 salutatorian Megan McCoy.
“Some people have a light inside of them that is contagious; this is especially true for her,” said McCoy, in her nomination letter. “Mrs. Greene radiates joy and never fails to put others before herself… She is one of the strongest people I know. Not only has she helped me, but the impact she had made on me and my family is a bigger blessing than I could ever ask for.”
After graduation, McCoy plans to attend the University of Texas at Austin and major in biology.
Senior and Class of 2018 valedictorian Ethan Medley spoke about the teacher at Bullard ISD that has made a lasting mark on his life, which was his mother, BHS mathematics teacher Jane Medley.
“Being taught and raised by her has influenced me the most out of any teacher here in Bullard by a long shot, and words can’t say as to how thankful I am for her guidance throughout my life,” said Ethan Medley, in his nomination letter. “Though she has not actually taught me throughout my schooling, she has taught me many important life lessons as a child, as well as through my teenage years.”
After graduation, Ethan Medley plans to attend Texas A&M University and major in biomedical engineering.
BHS career prep/psychology teacher Tamara Griffith was the recipient of recognition by senior Macy Riley, who described Griffith as a teacher willing to listen to what the students need to discuss.
“It’s no secret that school can be stressful and difficult at times, but whenever I go to her class, my stress seems to have been lightened, as she always welcomes us with a smile, coffee, and occasionally a snack,” said Riley, in her nomination letter. “While assuring us we will be okay, she doesn’t treat us or our problems as anything less than they are, because, yes, we are teenagers, but having someone to be kind and listen to us means more than you can know.”
After graduation, Riley plans to attend Texas A&M University and major in international studies.
Senior Zoe Sanford was able to share with attendees about her relationship and friendship with BHS nurse Celeste Bochow.
“I would say Celeste Bochow impacted my life greatly,” said Sanford, in her nomination letter. “She was there for me the minute I started high school. From being a shoulder to cry on to keeping me going when I didn’t think I could. There were days I just wanted to give up and I didn’t think I could do it, but she always gave me that extra push I needed to keep going; she never let me think I couldn’t do something, even in the worst times… She was like a second mom to me and I wouldn’t have it any other way.”
After graduation, Sanford plans to attend TJC and enroll in the school’s CNA program.
BHS environmental science/astronomy teacher Ben Pinion was praised by senior Emeline Smith, saying Pinion’s love for his academic subject and him students have encouraged her to seek out her own calling.
“The first person that came to my mind when asked to choose a teacher who made a positive impact on me was Mr. Ben Pinion,” said Smith, in her nomination letter. “He is definitely not your average teacher. He has a passion about his subject and his students that leavens the atmosphere each period into something extraordinary, far beyond the stereotypical staid science class… To see such passion every day motivates me to find a field of work about which I am equally enthusiastic.”
After graduation, Smith plans to attend UT Tyler and major in Spanish.
Senior Sadie Spencer rose to speak about BHS English teacher Jordan Pope, describing how their relationship has grown since attending Pope’s class as a sophomore.
“I couldn’t have asked for a better teacher/person to have impacted my high school career,” said Spencer, in her nomination letter. “Mrs. Pope helped make my sophomore year enjoyable and still continues to put a smile on my face anytime I talk to her. Even after my sophomore year, I have continued to visit Mrs. Pope anytime I need anything, whether it’s advice or just a good laugh about the weird tricks we both can do with our eyes. [She] has made these years of high school a little easier and I am so grateful to have had such an amazing smart, and fun person throughout my high school career.”
After graduation, Spencer plans to attend UT Tyler and pursue a major that leads to the medical field.
BHS medical terminology/pharmacy technician teacher Amy McKeethan was the subject of senior Jarrett Whatley’s recognition, as Whatley said McKeethan has helped her to decide on a career choice.
“I had Mrs. McKeethan as a teacher for the first time my sophomore year in medical terminology,” said Whatley, in her nomination letter. “This was my first year in the health science program and I didn’t really know what to expect because at that time, I wasn’t for sure what I wanted to do when I grew up… When I graduate and move on to the next chapter of my life, I will not only take the information that was taught to me, but also all of her life lessons and encouraging words.”
After graduation, Whatley plans to attend Texas A&M University and major in biomedical science.
The final recognition of the night was from senior Conner White, reflecting on the memories of having BHS science teacher Pinion in the classroom.
“One of the first influential teachers in my life would have to be Pinion,” said White. “He was my first engineering teacher, but his guidance extends beyond that. Pinion was the first teacher who encouraged me to apply for MIT. Although I will be attending Texas A&M, my journey of applying to MIT has, without an iota of vacillation, resulted in me becoming an exemplary student, and for this, I am grateful to my teacher.”
After graduation, White will be attending Texas A&M University and major in aerospace engineering.
Along with Thiem as president, BEF is led by vice-president team leaders Terry Boyd, Rodger Johnson, and Chip Pittman, as well as secretary Kathy Bosley and board members Todd Schneider, Jan Hill, Cory Zahirniak, Brian Vestal, Jeremy Ashley, Brandy Baker, Shelia Berry, Jason Creel, Rebecca Esposito, Dr. James Gardner, Jean Lucas, and Shane Pyle.
Since its founding in May 2009, BEF has awarded a total of $377,400 to Bullard ISD campuses and students through scholarships, innovative teaching grants, and student/faculty recognition. For more information about BEF, visit www.bullardeducationfoundation.org.