Here is an excerpt written by Debby Cuerden for the Master Teachers’ Luncheon:
“According to Webster, a teacher is ‘one whose occupation is to instruct.’ In the eyes of countless students whose lives you have graced, a teacher is far more than that. Young people speak of the passion that permeated your teaching; they recall the creativity and humor that characterized your style and made classes with you ones to be anticipated and relished.They acknowledge and appreciate that you have prepared them for anything the future may hold.
“In addition to your powerful influence in the classroom, you have been a mentor and a friend. Embodying a remarkable blend of energy, wit, conviction, wisdom, and selflessness, you have touched and inspired your students. They respect you, cherish you, and will miss you.”
In fact, Kathy was so revered that Kathy Benninghoff and I also wrote our own paeans. However, I have never forgiven Mrs. Stokes for retiring-- I miss her irreverence, quips, and sagacity. She remains a classic.
In 2002 Kathy Stokes, one of my favorite people with whom I worked, retired from Graland School. To commemorate Mrs. Stokes’s tenure as an English -- and history-- teacher, the school renamed the Excellence in English Award, the Kathleen Stokes Award for Excellence in English.
Even though we no longer award this prize, the plaque has a place of honor on a wall in the Gates Middle School. It is an important prize to me not only because I worshipped Kathy, but also because I taught English for thirty years in Philadelphia and at Graland. The first winners of the English prize were Noah Aptekar and David Hock. The smiles on their faces as they won the prize named in honor of Mrs. Stokes was a moment I shall never forget.
Graland Country Day School is a private school in Denver, Colorado, serving students in preschool, kindergarten, elementary, and middle school. Founded in Denver in 1924, Graland incorporates a rich, experiential learning approach in a traditional classroom setting, emphasizing the development of globally and socially conscious leaders who excel academically.