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Gwen White Receives Teacher of the Year Award
Below are comments by Senior Adaeze Medani in presenting the Teacher of the Year Award to Gwen White at the Academic Awards Assembly in May 2012:
“The Elizabeth Kelley Exemplary Teacher Award is presented annually to a deserving Bellarmine faculty member. The purpose of the award is to hold out to the Bellarmine community and the community at large the educational values of Bellarmine by selecting an exemplar of those values. These values consist of religion, intellectuality, community building and justice.
My position within the Selection Committee was to give a student aspect of the nominees. All five members of the committee were given the task to review the nominations and come up with their top two or three selections based on what the Bellarmine community, employees, students, parents, alumni, and Board members have written about a faculty member.
The process was very difficult for there were many faculty members that were more than deserving of this award. The decision was made even more difficult when it came down to two nominees that all members of the committee agreed on. After each member of the committee made their case on who they believed should be the recipient, we had a vote, which was tallied by Mr. Peterson.
Intangibles of Her Influence are Vast
The faculty member selected received an abundance of nominations. It was overwhelming reading what people had to say. One faculty member said, ‘The intangibles of her influence on our community are vast. She shares her faith life in retreats and at national Jesuit conferences. She creates a haven for those marginalized and disenfranchised here on campus. She educates herself and others about the institutionalized 'isms' in our society.’
Caring & Welcoming Demeanor
A student said, ‘She is very involved not just with Bellarmine activities, but activities in the community as well. With her caring and welcoming demeanor, she has a genuine care for students and is someone I can always talk to. She has accomplished so much and is rarely recognized for all her accomplishments and the things she does.’
Opens Doors & Tears Down Walls
Another faculty member said, ‘She does an excellent job of opening doors and tearing down walls so that students and teachers alike can discuss difficult and delicate issues of race, class, privilege, power and social justice.’
Helps Students Fit Into New & Sometimes Awkward Surroundings
Another student said, ‘To sum it up, she is the voice of minorities here at Bellarmine. She works rigorously at helping students fit into new and sometimes awkward surroundings. Her extraordinary personality accomplishes that perfectly.’
Advocate for Students & Entire Student Body
Out of all the commentary this faculty member has gotten, I believe that this statement made by a colleague sums up this person in its entirety. ‘She has been walking the halls of Bellarmine for 20 years as a parent, Board member, Co-Director of Diversity and advocate, not just for students and parents of color, but for the entire student body.’
So, without further ado, the 2012 Elizabeth Kelley Exemplary Teacher Award goes to the one and only, Gwen White."
The Elizabeth Kelley Exemplary Teacher Award was started in 1986 with the goal of recognizing annually the teachers who daily make Bellarmine not only academically powerful, but also personally enriching. Named after a former News Tribune publisher's daughter and grandmother of two Bellarmine alums, Ms. Kelley donated the funding for the award as a way to further excellence in education.
Each year, nomination forms are distributed to students, faculty, parents and anyone else interested. Generally, about 40 forms are returned, each telling glowingly of how a faculty member has changed a life or been an inspiration. Next, a committee is formed to sort through all the forms and choose one faculty member to receive the award. The committee is made up of a school board member, the principal of one of the Catholic grade schools, a previous faculty winner, a student delegate, and a leading community figure.