A local pastor's educational experience in Blount County Schools resembles a popular sitcom's final scene.
Gary Stinnett, who is First Baptist Church Maryville's pastor of students and family life ministries, delivered the keynote speech at the fifth annual Excellence in Education banquet, which was held Thursday at William Blount High School.
"When I consider my education in Blount County Schools and all the great teachers I had here, I am reminded of the final scene from one of my all-time favorite TV shows: 'Boy Meets World.'"
In the sitcom's final scene, the show's four main characters meet with educator George Feeny, who "through the magic of television" followed the group from middle school to college, in his old classroom. The quartet sat in their old desks and waited for one last piece of advice from their teacher.
Feeny tells the group: "Believe in yourselves. Dream. Try. Do good."
"Can I please beg of you to never lose sight of the calling, a God-given calling, to teach our kids to believe in themselves, to dream big dreams, to not be afraid to try and to do good?" Stinnett said. "Who is your Mr. Feeny?"
Stinnett, who attended Bungalow Elementary for eight years, Friendsville High for three years and William Blount High for one year, remembered a number of great teachers, including Dianne Dixon, Holden Lail, Sarah Cross, Ed Knoll, Ken Byrd Jr., Carroll Ray and Bill Wallace. However, the teacher who most resembled Mr. Feeny in his life was fourth grade teacher Esther Keown.
"She would start our class by reading a passage of Scripture, saying a prayer and leading our class in the Pledge of Allegiance," Stinnett said. "While all of my teachers up until then had realized I was a good student, it was Mrs. Keown who realized the potential I had.
"She introduced me to writers such as Harper Lee, Mark Twain and Jack London. They weren't your typical fourth grade reads, but she challenged me. She, I suppose, as much as anyone taught me to believe in myself, to dream big dreams and believe they can could come true, to not be afraid to try and maybe, most importantly, to do good."
"Who are you a Mr. Feeny to?"
Teacher Of The Year
Blount County Schools honored more than 40 educators and administrators at the banquet. It presented building-level and district-level Teacher of the Year awards, Administrator Service awards and Excellence in Instructional Leadership awards.
Blount County's Teacher of the Year recipients are competing in the Tennessee Teacher of the Year program, which is sponsored annually by the state Department of Education and the Niswonger Foundation.
District-level winners are:
• Friendsville Elementary School's Kari Sharp, who was named the system's Teacher of the Year in Pre-K-4;
• Union Grove Middle School's Anissa Hudson, who was named Teacher of the Year for grades 5-8;
• William Blount High School's Randy Puckett, who was named Teacher of the Year for grades 9-12.
The trio will represent Blount County Schools in the regional competition for Tennessee Teacher of the Year. Winning teachers were rated on six criteria: undergraduate/graduate studies, diversity of employment experiences, professional affiliations, leadership activities, awards/recognitions, and service to the community.
Prospect Elementary School's Melissa Bennett was also named Mathematics Teacher of the Year, and Rockford Elementary School's Lisa Russell was named the Reading Teacher of the Year. Everett Learning Opportunity Center's Debbie Keeble was named Classified Employee of the Year.