“... The program is in its 55th year and Cartersville Rotary Club has been a local sponsor of the program for all 55 of those years, and we’re proud of that,” Rotary member Rick Drews said.
The Professional Association of Georgia Educators’ Student Teacher Achievement Recognition program is sponsored by the PAGE foundation, the Georgia Chamber of Commerce and the Georgia Department of Education.
The program honors Georgia’s outstanding high school seniors and the teachers who have been most instrumental in their academic development.
STAR students must make the highest score in their class on the SAT and be in the top 10 percent of their graduating class. Seniors and their teachers from Bartow County high schools, Cartersville High and Excel Christian Academy were honored during the luncheon.
Each teacher spoke on the efforts of their STAR student, followed by the student speaking on their STAR teacher. Students also spoke about their future plans, which ranged from playing football at Berry College to studying at Yale University.
“Sometimes I feel our brighter kids get left behind because we think they can handle anything in the world — until they leave us,” Marcia Humphreys, system winner Claire Haley’s former sixth-grade teacher, said, later reflecting on Haley’s transformation from a sixth-grade student to a graduating senior.
Both she and other teachers spoke positively about working with their STAR students, often sharing humorous stories as well as giving praise for the students’ abilities to cause their teachers to become more engaged in the learning process.
Cartersville High School 11th-grade chemistry teacher Marty Kilroy said while she appreciated the honor of being chosen as student Jacob Andersen’s STAR teacher, she was more grateful to have been Andersen’s teacher.
“In that [chemistry] class it was a very, very good group of kids. We had all of the kids in his graduating class in there, but Jake stood out beyond all the rest because of his love for knowledge in general, not just chemistry,” Kilroy said. “He wasn’t that crazy about chemistry, but he loved thinking and was so energetic with it, I had so much fun watching how his mind works.
“It was an amazing revelation that this generation is going to do really great things.”
Adairsville High School STAR student Cole McCreary spoke about playing practical jokes on teacher Brett Tolbert, but also shared with the crowd his appreciation for Tolbert as a teacher and mentor.
“... I was learning a lot because while Tolbert is fun to mess with, he also has a high intensity and fire that a lot of teachers I don’t think have today,” McCreary said. “He makes you want to learn and want to be there, rather than just having to be there.”
System winners will go on to compete at the district level in Rome and regional winners will compete for the honor of being named state PAGE STAR student.
This year’s honorees are Jacob Andersen, named city system winner, and teacher Marty Kilroy of Cartersville High School; Zachary Roberts and teacher John Miller of Excel Christian Academy; Cole McCreary and teacher Brett Tolbert of Adairsville High School; Veronica Cuevas and teacher Joyce Leaphart of Cass High School; Claire Elizabeth Haley, named county system winner, and teacher Marcia Humphreys of Woodland High School.