In years past, the Town of Garner, the chamber of commerce, and the Garner Education Foundation recognized various elements of education excellence separately. This year, they simply came together.
Monday the first Marjorie B. Barefoot Educational Awards Recognition Ceremony acknowledged teachers and assistants of the year, student scholarships, teachers earning national certification and retiring teachers.
“We had such a great response yesterday that we will never change it now,” said Mary Lib Perry, the education foundation’s chair. “I won’t say never but we probably won’t change it for a long time.”
The event brought all elements of the 11 Garner-area schools together at the Garner Performing Arts Center, bringing together some familiar faces. Mayor Ronnie Williams started the proceedings before Perry presented the awards, and Wake County Interim Superintendent Stephen Gainey made closing remarks.
Many of the students who won scholarships knew some of the honored or retiring educators. Mayor’s Scholarship winner Emily Lott, for example, shared an embrace with retiring honoree Faye Marshburn of Timber Drive Elementary, where Lott first met her. Others scholarship winners also made a point to Perry that teachers being honored had taught them in elementary school.
“We wanted to recognize not just students, but our teachers too,” Perry said. “The town was doing something, we were doing something, the chamber was doing something, so we combined it into one.”
The ceremony was named for the late Marjorie Barefoot, who taught for 37 years – 35 of them in Garner. She also was a hospitality committee chair. Perry said they couldn’t have honored Barefoot more appropriately than to name this event for her.
“Marjorie was a dynamo; she never stopped teaching. She taught us so many things. We miss her to this day,” Perry said. “Her love was the teachers, and making the teachers feel special.”
The Garner Education Foundation started in 1990 with the mission to support Garner schools. Perry said the organization, started as a part of the chamber of commerce before it morphed into its own entity, had a lot of work to do when it started.
“Garner several years ago – many many years ago – had an iffy reputation regarding education,” Perry said. But that’s changed, she said: “We have an excellent group of leaders in our schools now.”
The organization funds literacy programs such as SCOR – Schools and Communities Organizing to Read. On May 31 it will host a luncheon for SCOR volunteers at the Rand-Bryan House in Garner. It also promotes media technology and works to get schools access to it. It raises money for its programming through Cooks for Books, a cooking competition pairing Triangle TV personalities and restaurant chefs.