Tusculum alumni sweep Hamblen County Tear of the Year Awards
Tusculum alumni Johnathan Richardson ’02, Nick Darnell ’06 and Olivia Breeding ’12 have been announced as the system wide Hamblen County teachers of the year.
Each year, every school in Hamblen County nominates one hard-working teacher for the teachers of the year program. Once these individuals are selected, the “top teacher” from each category, elementary, middle and high school, is determined by an outside party. This year, members of the Lincoln County Department of Education made the decision.
Richardson, elementary teacher of the year, is a music teacher at Manley Elementary School. Throughout his career, Richardson has led numerous professional development opportunities for Hamblen County teachers on topics including multicultural education, music in special needs classrooms, arts integration and brain games. He also has provided training at professional conferences on the state and national levels. In his classroom, he integrates other subjects such as language arts, science, math and social studies into his music lessons. In addition, Richardson heavily focuses on culture in his classroom. He said he believes it is essential his students understand other cultures due to the variety of backgrounds present in his classes. His favorite part of teaching is seeing the smiles of his students.
The middle school teacher of the year, Darnell, teaches eighth grade American history at East Ridge Middle School. There Darnell is a substitute administrator and a member of the Data Team, Crisis Team and Mentor Leadership Team. He chairs the School Improvement Team. He also is the facilitator of the school’s Colonial Day, World Culture Day, Geography Bee and Mock Elections. In his classroom, Darnell integrates technology in an hands-on way for his students. Darnell’s inspiration is his students and enjoys working with them each day.
Breeding, an algebra I teacher and head of the peer tutoring program at West High School, was selected as the high school teacher of the year. She was a participant in the STEPs Externship program for science, technology, engineering and math teachers with local industry. Breeding helped to teach and develop the school system’s Seeds, Roots and Fruits program. Peer tutoring is a strategy Breeding uses in her classroom. She said this has proven successful due to the success her students have experienced. At West High, Breeding is the Interact sponsor and cheerleading coach.
Kristy Sproles ’00 is among six Tennessee social studies teachers the Tennessee State Library and Archives named to its Tennessee State Library and Archives Educator Working Group. This group will assist and advise the Library and Archives staff about ways to make its Tennessee history collections available to teachers and students. The group will develop lesson plans based on original Tennessee documents and images so that social studies teachers across the state can better use TSLA’s primary sources in their classroom instruction.
Sproles is a high school teacher at Sullivan Central High School in Sullivan County. She holds a master of education from Tusculum College and has been teaching for 15 years.
The Tennessee State Library and Archives education outreach program offers tours of the building for teachers and students, sponsors statewide workshops for teachers, and offers a new education outreach website that links TSLA’s primary sources in American and Tennessee history directly to Tennessee’s new social studies curriculum standards.
Alison Leigh David ’95 was married to Robert McKinley Hagerman on Sept. 20, 2014, at the Inn on Town Creek in Abingdon, VA. After a honeymoon in Antigua and the Florida Keys, the couple is living in Abingdon. Alison is a realtor with Jones and Associates Realty and Robert works for Trustpoint Insurance.
Ryan Phillip Huff ’09 and Brook Renae Johnson were married December 13, 2014, at The Charles in Johnson City. The couple are living in Knoxville, TN.
Mary Elizabeth Ross Reel ’38, a longtime resident of Rogersville, TN, passed away on Feb. 17, 2015, following a period of declining health. Mrs. Reel taught for several years in the Greene County School System at Hardins View Elementary School and retired from teaching in the Hawkins County School System as a teacher at Hawkins County Elementary School. She was a member of the Rogersville Presbyterian Church. Mrs. Reel read her Bible daily, noting many favorite verses, especially Psalms 121. After her retirement, she became very interested in her family’s genealogy and spent many hours tracing her family’s history. Mrs. Reel received the honor of membership of “First Families of Tennessee,” which extends membership to anyone who can prove direct descent from a person or persons living in any part of what is now Tennessee before or by statehood in 1796. A native of Greene County, the home where she grew up in Afton as been in her family for at least 100 years. She had begun researching the farm history in order to apply for the “Tennessee Century Farms Program,” which recognizes farms owned by the same family for at least 100 years. Mrs. Reel was an avid reader, making weekly trips to the library for all the latest releases and her older favorites. She instilled this love for reading not only in her own children, but in her classroom students.
Evelyn Smelcer Holdway ’45 of Morristown, TN, passed away Feb. 7, 2015. During World War II, she worked as a civilian efficiency analyst. Following the war, she returned to the Morristown area and married W.F. “Kink” Holdway. She used her business skills to help him run a successful dairy and crop farm. She was a longtime supporter of instrumental music, frequently attending concerts and provided financial support to regional band programs, including that of her Alma Mater. She was also a frequent volunteer with the Hamblen County 4-H Club during her daughter’s middle and high school years. In addition to music, she enjoyed dancing, singing, board games, crossword puzzles and gardening and was an avid reader.
Michael Stan Perry ’94 of Gaffney, SC, passed away Dec. 23, 2013, at his residence. Mr. Perry was a district manager with Piedmont Natural Gas. He was a member of the Gaffney and Spartanburg Rotary clubs, a member of the Gaffney and Spartanburg Chamber of Commerce and formerly served as a volunteer with the Boys & Girls Club.
John George Kosmak ’98 of Gray, TN, passed away Jan. 7, 2015, at Vanderbilt Medical Center in Nashville. He had been diagnosed with leukemia in December 2014. Mr. Kosmak had been serving as an adjunct professor in the Tusculum School of Business. A native of Chicago, his family was of Czechoslovakian decent and he took great pride in his family’s heritage. Mr. Kosmak had an unquenchable thirst for knowledge and education, earning multiple degrees including his master’s degree in education and training from Tusculum. A veteran, he served in the U.S. Air Force for 20 years. Stationed around the world, he retired as a master sergeant and had spent time serving in the department of communications for the President’s Air Force One and Two. He had worked for the Postal Service since 1995 and started teaching as an adjunct at Tusculum in 2000. Mr. Kosmak had become a Ham Radio Operator at the age of 15. His expertise in Morse code resulted in him winning national competitions. He also spent much time in building radios and assisting others in earning their Ham licenses. In more recent years, he built customized antennas and sold them worldwide.