Top Notch Arts Teachers Gain National Recognition

The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts announced the 2012 winners of Kennedy Center/Stephen Sondheim Inspirational Teacher Awards—a series of annual grants which recognize inspiring teachers across the United States. After receiving hundreds of nominations through the Kennedy Center website, 10 teachers were selected for their exceptional influence on their students. Award recipients each receive $10,000 and are showcased, along with the people they inspired, on a website dedicated to inspirational teachers.

We have two of those ten award-winning teachers right here in River City!

The awards were created in honor of Stephen Sondheim’s 80th birthday and were initiated and funded through the generous support of Freddie and Myrna Gershon.

The 10 teachers are: Chris Bundy of Floyd Central High School in Floyds Knobs, IN; Vincent Catano of Catholic Memorial School in West Roxbury, MA; Christopher Collins of Rains High School in Emory, TX; Amy Gibson of Huntingtown High School in Huntingtown, MD; Richard Golenko of J. Frank Dobie High School in Houston, TX; Dr. Riffat Hassan of University of Louisville in Louisville, KY; Dr. John M. Long of Robert E. Lee High School in Montgomery, AL; Donna Porter of Picayune Memorial High School in Picayune, MS; Nicole Waicunas of Edwin O. Smith High School in Storrs, CT; and Roderick Zano of Princess Anne High School in Virginia Beach, VA.

“Teachers define us,” stated Stephen Sondheim. “In our early years, when we are still being formed, they often see in us more than we see in ourselves, more even than our families see and, as a result, help us to evolve into what we ultimately become. Good teachers are touchstones to paths of achieving more than we might have otherwise accomplished, in directions we might not have gone.”

The Kennedy Center/Stephen Sondheim Inspirational Teacher Awards are presented each year on Sondheim’s birthday —March 22—to a select group of teachers, kindergarten through college, who are nominated via the Kennedy Center website at (kennedy-center.org/sondheimteacherawards).

Congratulations Mr. Bundy (who is retiring at the end of this year) and Dr. Hassan!

Chris Bundy: "Observing me conducting a high school workshop while in college, my performing arts mentor offered the following advice... 'You may be a terrific actor, but working with kids is where you'll find your heart.' How true. Having chosen that path, quite simply, my 'kids' are the breath to my soul."

Michael Chandler, who nominated Bundy, said, "I don't remember exactly what happened next, but I know that it ended with my eyes closed, singing. No twitching, no random gesticulations. When I opened my eyes, he was standing with the biggest grin on his face and he said, 'See? On stage you’re safe. You get to be whatever Michael you want to be.'"

Riffat Hassan: "As a girl growing up in Pakistan's patriarchal society, I learnt at the feet of my mother who had little access to formal education, that acquiring and disseminating knowledge was a great privilege. Teaching is my calling; I love participating in the enrichment and broadening of students' minds and sensibilities."

Yasser Hayat, who nominated Dr. Hassan, said "The first words that Dr. Hassan said were, 'How many of you believe that according to the Quran men are considered superior to women?' Nearly the entire class (including me) raised their hands. Dr. Hassan smiled and said, 'Well this is going to be a very interesting semester for you all…'"

 A Roast and Toast retirement party will be held at Floyd Central on April 7th, 2 p.m. All former students of Mr. Bundy are invited to attend.

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