Cameron Presents Inspiring Minds-Excellence in Education Awards

Cameron University is pleased to announce the recipients of the Inspiring Minds - Excellence in Education Award, which recognizes outstanding high school educational professionals who have had a significant impact on the life of a Cameron University student. Nominations for the honor are made by current, full-time Cameron students. Fonda Smith, an English teacher at Duncan High School, and Janice Bear, an English teacher at Eisenhower High School in Lawton, have been honored with the 2010 award, which carries a $500 stipend for each teacher, as well as a $500 donation to each of the schools.

"Mrs. Bear and Mrs. Smith have each made a profound difference in the lives of their students," says Jamie Glover, Associate Vice President for Enrollment Management. "These two educators are the epitome of what we hope to find in all teachers. Cameron University is privileged to honor them with the Inspiring Minds - Excellence in Education Award." 

Lyle Gay, a sophomore nursing major from Duncan, nominated Fonda Smith. "English is by far my favorite and strongest subject, and I owe this entirely to Mrs. Smith and what her class has done for me," he wrote. "Everyone knows that Mrs. Smith means business and that she takes her job very seriously. She puts all that she has into teaching and expects her students to do the same from their side. Her class was hard, yet fair. I strongly believe if I was not pushed the way I was in her class, I would not be the type of student I am today. I never knew how to push myself or my limits until I took her class."

He also cited Smith's mentoring of students, writing, "The best thing about Mrs. Smith was that she was not just preparing me for our English tests; she was preparing me for life. There were numerous times when I went to Mrs. Smith for advice about classes, family, friends and just life in general, and she was always there." 

According to Gay, Smith is a positive influence who takes a personal interest in her students. "I came to consider Mrs. Smith as a second mother and someone that I could trust in. She personally looked after her students and made sure that we were being the young men and women that she expected us to be."

Gay summed up his nomination by saying, "Mrs. Smith is an amazing woman. She has impacted life after life not only as a teacher but also as a role model and mother figure. She goes above and beyond the things that are required of her. She does it not for herself, but for her students."

Janice Bear was nominated by Ashley Winfrey, an international languages major. As a high school sophomore, Winfrey was Bear's student in Pre-AP (Advance Placement) English Language and Composition. "As a teacher and a person, she is truly unparalleled," Winfrey wrote. "She taught a rigorous course, but it was all worth the effort in the end. She is such an animated individual and has undoubtedly been influential in my decision to pursue higher education."

Winfrey related that the workload in Mrs. Bear's course was tough, and she was relieved when it ended. Instead of enrolling in AP English during her junior year, she instead enrolled in Honors English with a different teacher. Mrs. Bear sought out Winfrey to ask why she had not enrolled in AP English. "I told her that I thought it would be entirely too difficult for me, but she was persistent in her attempt to make me take her class...I just knew the workload would double or even triple. She told me to try it out and if I felt as though it was too difficult, I could return to Honors English...so I took her up on her offer. As I reflect on that day, I realize that she showed the most care and concern for my education than any of my other instructors."

Thanks to Mrs. Bear's rigorous coursework and willingness to spend extra time with her students, Winfrey passed the AP Exam, earned college credit and advanced to English Composition II as a freshman at Cameron. Her professor in that class asked to speak with her one day. "She told me that she really enjoyed my writing...She asked where I got my inspiration to write. I told her that my high school teacher was Mrs. Bear, and she replied, ‘Oh,' nodding her head. Mrs. Bear is widely known and respected by other professionals in her field, and she has definitely had the most significant impact on my education."

Winfrey concluded her nomination with, "Deciding to take her class also taught me a valuable lesson: never back away from a challenge when it can be beneficial to a successful future."

Cameron University congratulates these two deserving educators.

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May 21, 2010
PR# 10-112