GRC seniors recognize faculty Difference Makers

Published 11:00 am Friday, May 26, 2023

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On Friday, May 26, George Rogers Clark High School seniors will walk across the stage for their high school graduation.

Recently, many of them took an opportunity to say “Thank you” to those who have positively impacted them.

The 2nd Annual GRC Difference Makers event took place at the cafeteria of George Rogers Clark High School earlier this month.

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“It’s great to see so many people here tonight for this moment of the year,” said GRC Principal Jamie Keene.

Having started last year, GRC Difference Makers has a meaningful two-fold purpose.

“One is to give the students an opportunity to acknowledge and recognize some staff members throughout their education journey who [were] a positive impact and made a difference,” Keene said. “[It] also [gives] the opportunity for our staff to be recognized for going above and beyond and building those positive relationships with students.”

This fall, students nominated various staff members they said had made a difference in their lives.

At the event, those students had an opportunity to read their written essays aloud, many of them doing so with the teachers they’d mentioned present.

Each Difference Maker named by a student was presented with a gift bag for their impact on students.For many staff members, the event sparked emotions.

Amanda Crowell, a teacher at Apollo High School in Owensboro who previously taught U.S. History and A.P. Psychology for seventeen years at GRC, made the trip to Winchester to be recognized by two students.

“Getting to be back and getting to see former students was such a sweet gift,” Crowell said. “I don’t know if I ever envisioned it, but it’s really sweet just to know that you meant so much to a student.”

Four students recognized Erin Newton, who teaches English to upper-class students, as an individual who made a difference.

“Our job is to teach the content, but our mission is to build those relationships with kids,” Newton said. “For some of our kids, it’s the only kind of relationship that they have in their life that has a positive value attached to it. If I can play even the smallest part…then that’s what makes us show up every day.”

While high school teachers got much recognition, others did as well.

Coaches, administrators, and even a school cafeteria worker also received thanks.

Stephanie Arthur, a chorus and performing arts teacher at Baker Intermediate School, was recognized by her former student, Lillian Florence.

Florence, who will study music education at Eastern Kentucky University beginning this fall, mentioned that Arthur was an early influence.

“Ms. Arthur was my very first choir teacher, and she had the ability to push my class to be our best,” Florence said. “She treated her class with the utmost respect…as a senior getting ready to graduate off the stage in fifteen days, eight years after having Miss Arthur as a teacher…I’m still applying her lessons.”

Notably, the end of the event featured a surprise that caught the host and outgoing Principal Jamie Keene off guard.

Keene, who will move on to serve as Clark County Public School’s Director of Innovation and Alternative Programs next year, was named a Difference Maker as voted upon by the school faculty.

“Mr. Keene has been a principal since I first came to GRC in 2012, and to say that he has been a mentor and a friend, a shoulder to cry on, or here to listen, are only just a few things that I could say,” Newton stated.

With that, Keene was presented with his own unique award, complete with a proclamation.

As the event neared an end, Keene summarized that the event was indicative of each teacher’s mission.

“A lot of folks inside and outside of education sometimes wonder why we do some of the things we do,” he said. “This is why. This is what makes the difference…building those relationships and caring for our kids.”