Eight Educators to be Inducted into Educators Hall of Honor

Eight educators—including a grandmother, mother, and daughter from the same family—who have significantly influenced students’ lives will be honored Thursday, April 18, when they are inducted into the UT Educators Hall of Honor.

The 6:30 p.m. event will take place at the UT Visitors Center, near the corner of Neyland Drive and Kingston Pike.

Bob Kesling, director of broadcasting for UT Athletics and the play-by-play voice of football and basketball games, will emcee the event.

The media is invited to attend.

The Educators Hall of Honor acknowledges the work of professionals who have established themselves in the field of education. It is open to any professional in the United States, and members have come from throughout Tennessee and the nation. It has featured educators from elementary school to college ranks, coaches, organizations, and nontraditional educators who have made an impact on improving education. The hall is housed in the College of Education, Health, and Human Sciences.

Nominations are made with a contribution of at least $1,000, which supports an endowed scholarship fund. The $2,000 scholarship recipient this year is Cate C. Smith, a doctoral student and coordinator of the UT FUTURE Program.

The new group of honorees includes:

  • Ruth Benn, a teacher, guidance counselor, and principal retired from the former Beardsley Elementary School in Knoxville. She was instrumental in helping to integrate Knoxville’s schools. She has been a community volunteer and activist. She was one of the organizing members of the Knoxville Urban League and has raised funds for Knoxville College and the United Negro College Fund. She is a former member of the UT Chancellor’s Associates.
  • Hardy DeYoung, a science teacher at Alcoa High School in Alcoa, Tennessee, since 1990. He provides hands-on opportunities for students to learn about marine life and collect scientific data. He started Alcoa’s Advanced Placement biology program in 1993 and has been its only teacher. His students have taken scuba lessons and gone on annual trips to dive with manatees in Florida. He also leads an annual trip for sophomores to a marine biology school in Skidaway Island, Georgia. He has trained student teachers and interns from Carson Newman College, Maryville College, and UT. In 1998, he was the Tennessee recipient of the National Science Foundation’s Presidential Teaching Award in Secondary Science.
  • Fanchon “Fancy” Funk, a professor emerita in the Department of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies in the College of Education at Florida State University. She began her career as a high school science teacher in Asheville, North Carolina. She then taught at a community college before moving on to the university level as a professor, clinical supervisor, and administrator. Her e-mail signature ends with a quote: “Every job is a reflection of the person who did it—autograph your work with excellence.” The quote defines her career and her character, one nominator said.
  • Andy Kozar, a professor and administrator at UT and the University of Michigan, who will be honored posthumously. During his career, he emphasized to his students the importance of establishing and maintaining strong professional relationships with co-workers. He also underscored the importance of supervisors listening to their employees. He began his teaching career in 1956 as an elementary school physical education teacher. In 1958, he began teaching at the college level. He was a native of Pennsylvania who was recruited to UT to play football for General Robert Neyland and was on the 1951 national championship team. He died in April 2010.
  • Jennifer Willard, executive director of the Community School of the Arts in Knoxville. She founded the nonprofit after-school program in 1992. She is a graduate of the UT School of Music and the University of Chicago. Her thirty-year career in nonprofit arts includes administrative and artistic positions with Lyric Opera of Chicago, Dallas Opera and the Birmingham, Alabama, Opera Theater. She also was coordinator of fine arts programs with the University of Alabama system. She is a member of the Leadership Knoxville Class of 1998.
  • Violet McNiel, Mildred Hampton, and Linda Starnes, a grandmother, mother, and daughter family of educators. From the 1920s to the present, the women have set an example of how the pursuit of education, the desire to teach, and the spirit of service are handed down from one generation to another, one nominator wrote. After graduating from UT in the 1920s, Violet McNiel returned to her hometown of Lansing, Tennessee, to teach high school. Her only child, Mildred Hampton, after earning a degree from UT, began teaching at the Webb School of Knoxville in the 1960s. Hampton’s career spanned eighteen years. Hampton’s youngest daughter, Linda Starnes, after graduating from UT in the 1980s, taught special education in Madison County, Tennessee, and Dallas, Texas. Starnes also worked at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government and later for the US Department of Justice and then-Secretary Lamar Alexander at the US Department of Education.

The Educators Hall of Honor was founded in 2002 by C. Glennon Rowell, the late dean of the former College of Education, as a way to recognize deserving teachers and supplement the education of future students. This year’s class is the second largest since the program began.

C O N T A C T :

Lola Alapo (865-974-3993, lola.alapo@tennessee.edu)

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