Cumberland University president Harvill Eaton found a clever way to tip off Wilson County’s 2013 Teacher of the Year that she had won without anyone else in the room knowing until she was formally introduced Friday evening.
Eaton used fired a barrage of quotes from famous people to disguise his magic trick.
“All of these statements were said by famous people, but I threw in a few from our Teacher of the Year, and I think she already knows she has won because I’ve been watching her reaction as I said them,” Eaton said.
Eaton then let everyone in on the fun as he announced McClain Christian Academy seventh-grade teacher Jen Whitener as the 2013 Wilson County Teacher of the Year.
“I’m in complete shock,” said Whitener after she was presented an engraved crystal vase and $1,500 to be used in her classroom. “This means so much to me being here with [McClain director] Dr. Charles Poston, my childhood principal. I was so excited when I found out I’d be working alongside him. I am so honored to be able to teach some of the most amazing kids. They just touch my heart.”
Friday evening’s event began with remarks from program sponsors Bob McDonald with CedarStone Bank, along with W.P. Bone III, owner of Wilson County Chevrolet-Buick-GMC-Hyundai, who introduced past winners of the coveted local educator award. The event also marked the 15th of its kind in Wilson County.
“In that time, about 500 teachers have been in this room being honored by their fellow educators,” Bone said. “The caliber of education in this area is incredible.”
One by one, 28 individual teachers of the year nominated by their respective schools took the stage to receive an engraved crystal plaque commemorating the honor.
“I love being in a room with greatness,” McDonald said. “I love being in a room with 28 people who are great at what they do. I love an evening like this.”
Eaton, the keynote speaker, further honored award recipients with his words.
“School is the place where our children go to grow up,” he said. “We all come together as one in saying our teachers are so important. Of all people, Alexander the Great once said, ‘I am indebted to my father for living, but my teacher for living well.’”
Eddie Pawlawski with Cumberland University served as master of ceremonies for the event at Baird Chapel. Pastor Lee Stevenson with Cook’s United Methodist Church led the invocation.