BISD Education Foundation Hall of Honor returns and honors eight influential graduates | Education
The Bryan ISD Education Foundation Hall of Honor event achieved its primary goal when it returned to Miramont Country Club on Saturday night for its 10th event.
The evening included a silent, live auction that raised more than $26,000 and honored eight Bryan Schools graduates who have made contributions at the local, state, national and international levels. The Bryan ISD Education Foundation supports teachers and students in Bryan and district initiatives.
The 2020 and 2021 events have been canceled due to COVID-19.
“We’re just thrilled because our last event was in 2019,” said Doug Lyles, chairman of the education foundation’s board. “To have the crowd that we have here and the support of our sponsors, the Bryan families, the families that are in the area, it brings everything together and supports the Bryan schools. Everyone here supports excellence and achievement.
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Additions to this year’s event included student ambassadors welcoming guests and performances by students in a string quartet and mariachi band Los Vikingos.
The main element of the live auction was the purse naming rights which allowed winners to create a one-time or recurring purse. A bidding war ended with two winners, each at $6,600. Judge Rick Hill, a member of the College Station ISD Education Foundation, agreed to share the article with the Waller family if he could tell the public about his nieces and nephews who have 71 years of teaching at Bryan and who will be l purse namesake.
To end the evening, eight Bryan School District graduates were recognized and inducted into the Hall of Honor for their contributions. This year’s recipients were Ethel Gibbs Batten, Kemp High School Class of 1965; Maj. Gen. Kenneth D. Jones, Class of 1976 at Bryan High School; Roy E. Lopez, Bryan High School class of 1977; Paul Madison Sr., Kemp High School Class of 1965; Louis M. Newman, Stephen F. Austin High School Class of 1962; Mervin Peters, Stephen F. Austin High School Class of 1960; Karen Smith, Stephen F. Austin High School Class of 1965; and Dana Wells, Bryan High School class of 1989.
Batten, who recently retired as vice president of human resources for Alcatel-Lucent in New Jersey and is an expert on civil rights issues and a specialist in work accommodation, said her courses favorites were English and American literature.
Emcee Mike Wright covered the Four Tops song “I Can’t Help Myself” to highlight an additional story Batten shared that one of his favorite memories of Kemp was going to prom with fellow honoree Paul Madison Sr.
Jones joined the U.S. Army after graduating from Texas A&M and retired in 2012 to serve as a general officer in the Army Reserve. According to his biography, he deployed three times between 2004 and 2016 to Southwest Asia and on his last deployment commanded over 10,000 troops and contractors to re-establish logistics bases.
Jones said many teachers impacted his life by challenging him and pushing him to improve.
Lopez is a financial aid and admissions counselor at Texas A&M and is the founder and CEO of the annual event Fiestas Patrias Mexicanas which has provided more than $300,000 in student scholarships over the past 30 years.
He was nominated for the Jefferson Prize and is the second Hispanic to receive the John J. Koldus Award at Texas A&M for his support of students. He also supports Make the Magic Camp Kesem which helps children during and after a parent’s cancer diagnosis.
Madison, who lined up against football legend “Mean” Joe Greene at Kemp High School, served on the Bryan City Council from 2001-2006 and 2007-2013, representing single-member District 2. His son, Prentiss, currently serves in the same role.
Madison singled out three teachers who stood out for him: his first-grade teacher who told him he had the potential to help others; his fourth grade teacher who taught him about life and encouraged him to continue his university studies; and his eighth-grade teacher who encouraged him to be well-rounded and to continue pursuing a college education.
Newman joined the US Marine Corps after graduating from Texas A&M in 1966 and served in Vietnam for 2½ years as a combat officer. He received two Purple Hearts, the Bronze Star, the Silver Star and the Distinguished Flying Cross, and more than 50 awards for his bravery.
He retired from the Marine Corps as a captain and flew for Marsh Aviation and Tenneco Oil and Gas in Houston before returning to Bryan in 1972. He was on the committee to help bring the Presidential Library George HW Bush at Texas A&M.
Newman recently celebrated 50 years at Newman Printing Company, which he still runs daily as CEO.
Peters, after whom the street Mervin’s Run is named, has served as president and president of nearly a dozen regional organizations, including United Way of the Brazos Valley and the Bryan-College Station Chamber of Commerce. The chamber named him Citizen of the Year in 1997.
Karen Smith, who was unable to attend but was represented by her daughter, Heather Barron, is president and chief executive of Smith Dairy Queens, which employs 700 staff.
She and her late husband, Terry, met in Pops Miller’s history class when they mistakenly got each other a copy of a Mark Twain book. They began a 43-year relationship after returning the books.
In his biography, he states that Smith supports local organizations Habitat for Humanity, Health for All, Pink Alliance, Brazos Valley Food Bank, Unlimited Potential, Voice for Children, and Girl Scouts.
“I love this community and care about helping those in need and seeing young lives grow and setting them up for success in life,” she wrote in her bio.
Wells is CEO and Principal of Dana Wells and Associates in Houston, and is a recognized business transformation strategist and advisor to energy executives.
She is a General Representative on the 2021 Texas A&M Alumni Association Board of Directors and a 2030 Aggie Woman Pioneer.
One of the most impactful stories Wells had from her time at Bryan Schools was when she was deciding where to go to college, saying she wanted to attend a historically black college or university. One of her favorite teachers, Imogene Vetters, told her that Texas A&M was a gateway to everything she wanted to do. Wells described it as a life-changing conversation.
Wells called it an honor to be recognized for her accomplishments.
“What was given to me by the community, by my parents, by our Christian values, by our education; it’s just sowing the seeds of the harvest for me. It is what it is,” she said. “It’s an honor to be able to come back, give back and be recognized. When they talk about the things I’ve done, it’s because of the time and education that’s been invested in me. That’s what it’s all about for me.
Imogene Vetters, whom Wells called one of her favorite teachers at Bryan High School, said she loved seeing the leadership her former students gained during their time in the school district.
“Of course I know they’ve moved on, but just the idea that they’re giving back to the community. It just makes me feel good just to see that,” she said.
Vetters served on the educational foundation’s board of trustees for three years and was a teacher at Bryan Schools for 39 years — most of that time spent at Bryan High School — before retiring in 2006.
Regarding teacher impact, Bryan ISD Education Foundation Executive Director Harry Francis said, “You don’t know who that kid is in that seat and where they’re going to be. And one day they’ll be back here, and you’re a part of it, just like Imogene Vetters was with Dr. Wells.
Jones said the values he has used throughout his career have been taught by teachers, community leaders and Texas A&M.
“These teachers need to understand that they are influencing people in ways they may not fully understand,” he said.
Superintendent Bryan Ginger Carrabine, who served as the evening’s keynote speaker and updated the audience on events in the school district, said the education foundation was “crucially important” to the district.
“The best way I can describe it is that we serve our students, we have to serve and support our staff. This is where the education foundation really comes into play for us, supporting our initiatives and teacher grants,” she said.