Two local private school teachers recently received $4,000 awards for their outstanding work.
Bobbie Owens, a part-time art teacher at ABC-Stewart, and E. Jean Jack, a second-grade teacher at White Creek Lutheran School, were recipients of the Reams Family Awards for Teaching Excellence, presented by the Heritage Fund — Community Foundation of Bartholomew County.
The award is given annually to outstanding teachers in the private schools of Bartholomew County.
Owens and Jack were nominated by their schools’ principals or directors based on their dedication to teaching, contributions to the school and for their skills and initiative.
Story continues below gallery
Specifically, Owens was recognized as an inspiring, creative educator with a wealth of experiences and for helping to teach students about different cultures through art exhibits. Jack was recognized for her organization and classroom structure, love for the school and making learning fun and creative.
The awards were announced during surprise presentations at each school.
Owens, who has been teaching at ABC-Stewart for 18 years — both full and part time — was asked to help with the Thanksgiving Feast at the school, which he thought was odd because he is not normally involved in those programs, he said.
When they presented the award, he was caught off guard.
“All the faculty, parents and students were there and I was just so flattered,” Owens said. “I can always put up a story or talk, but I was speechless.”
A painter, Owens said he never saw himself as a teacher, but rather an artist that teaches. He currently teaches three days a week and says he will continue to do so until it stops being fun.
“When you are an artist, you say, ‘Look at me, look at me,’ but when you are a teacher, you teach students to look at themselves,” he said.
Jack, who has taught around the nation for 24 years, mirrored those sentiments, although she suspected that something was going on when her sisters — one from Chicago and one from California — visited, and when other family members told her they intended to visit White Creek Church during the Sunday service. After the service, Jack was called to the front of the church and was presented with the award and letters of recommendation from members of the congregation.
“It takes one aback because you don’t expect that sort of thing and it is just quite an honor. Its humbling,” Jack said.
Both teachers already have plans for spending their award money. Jack plans to give her money to the school, potentially through artwork displays to showcase student writing and art in the hallways and science kits to advance the learning environment.
“I’m just so grateful that I had the opportunity to be a part of this White Creek community and to give back because they have given so much to me,” Jack said.
Owens intends to use his money for a tooth implant, which he said will probably take about half of his award after insurance. Owens was hit in the mouth with a baseball as a child and recently had to have the tooth surgically removed. He currently has a temporary tooth in place that his students are amused by.
“Kids say I look like a pirate,” Owens said, laughing.
The Reams Family Award for Teaching Excellence is given to outstanding educators teaching in Bartholomew County’s private schools.
It was established by former Bartholomew County residents Fred and Karen Reams. This is the 11th year of the award, granting more than $98,000 in total to private school teachers in the area.