Celebration of ‘stars’

Starlight Awards shines spotlight on Maryville City Schools standouts

Starlight Award winners recognized are, back row from left, Dr. Mike Dalton, Jane Andrews, Joe and Becky Swann and Joe Dawson; front row from left, Kevin Painter and Glenn Reynolds.

Photo by Leslie Karnowski

Starlight Award winners recognized are, back row from left, Dr. Mike Dalton, Jane Andrews, Joe and Becky Swann and Joe Dawson; front row from left, Kevin Painter and Glenn Reynolds.

They all left for a while, but then they returned and made Maryville a better place.

Maryville City Schools Foundation chair Todd White said that was the common trait among MCSF Starlight Award winners.

“Born or raised in Maryville. Go away for education and experience, come back home and utilize talents and passions to make this a better community,” White said. “All of our Starlight recipients have positively enhanced our community by returning and creating an amazing place to live, work, play and raise and educate a family.”

The annual Starlight Awards program held Saturday evening, Feb. 20, celebrates educational excellence by recognizing the accomplishments of graduates, the dedication of those who serve the schools and the partnerships of those who support educational opportunities in the Maryville community.

White thanked the Starlight Planning Committee that organized the event. “It is successful because of our committee. I’ve never been on a committee where everyone does what they say they are going to do, and they do more. That was the whole key,” he said.

Kevin Painter was recognized as the Outstanding Young Alumni.

Painter co-founded LeConte Wealth Management and has been involved with the United Way, the Maryville City Schools Foundation, Leadership Blount and the new Clayton Center for the Arts.

Painter said his family has a long connection to the Maryville City School System. “I was extremely humbled,” he said of the award. “I’m a third generation Maryville High graduate. My grandmother, my mother and I are all graduates from Maryville High School.”

The Community Partnership Award was awarded to the Blount Memorial Hospital Foundation and Community Outreach program. Jane Andrews is executive director.

White said the Community Partnership Award is granted to a business that serves as a sustaining partner through financially supporting the Maryville City Schools and youth programs in the community. “The Blount Memorial Foundation and Community Outreach serves our school systems and youth with passion and dedication,” he said.

“Because of the strong connection between students’ health and performance in the classroom, many of their programs address the needs of the whole child in an effort to enhance development and academic achievement,” White said. “These programs are in partnership with the Family Resource Center and the Coordinated School Health Program for the Maryville City School system as well as through similar programs in the Alcoa and Blount County schools.”

Andrews, executive director the foundation, gave the praise back to the community.

“Of course this doesn’t happen because of someone who has a title,” she said. “It’s an award to be shared by the entire community.”

The Distinguished Alumni Awards went to Glenn Reynolds and Joe Dawson.

White said the Distinguished Alumni Award is given to Maryville High School graduates who have made outstanding or distinguished contributions to their profession or chosen fields of endeavor or for distinguished human service to their community, state or nation. The foundation chooses two annual and this year Reynolds and Dawson were honored.

Reynolds graduated from MHS in 1978. He graduated from the University of Tennessee, then earned a degree from the Yale School of Law. He has served on the faculty of UT College of Law since 1989, is an expert on space and technology law, is a published author and hosts a weekly political and cultural program. He is a frequent contributor to Popular Mechanics Magazine and writes on legal and practical issues.

“To most of the world, he’s better known as the voice of Instapundit - a hugely popular political blog with a libertarian spin,” White said. (See accompanying story on Reynolds, page 9.)

Reynolds said when his mother brought the family to Maryville before his eighth grade year, he was nervous. “What I didn’t expect was I would make friends that I would keep the rest of my life,” he said.

A big influence in Reynolds academic career at the high school was Dr. Penny Ferguson. “I always had a lot of passion but she turned that into something people would want to actually read,” he said. “The most important thing I learned at Maryville High School is how to write.”

White said Dawson graduated Maryville High School in 1965. After graduating from Maryville College and Virginia Commonwealth University, he stayed in Virginia a few years and worked at two different hospitals. In 1977 he returned and became assistant administrator at Blount Memorial Hospital and was promoted to administrator in 1985.

Dawson praised those individuals who helped make the hospital what it is. “It is on behalf of those people I accept this award,” he said. “It is an enormous blessing to receive this award.”

Dr. Mike Dalton was awarded the Distinguished Service Award.

White said the foundation’s Distinguished Serve Award is granted to an individual who has demonstrated outstanding service and dedication to education in the City of Maryville. It can be presented to an alumni or non-alumni.

Dalton retired two years ago from the Maryville City School System after a 19-year tenure as director.

Dalton, a Walland High School graduate, earned a degree at Maryville College and then got his masters and doctorate degrees at the University of Tennessee. He started out teaching at Everett High, became assistant director of Blount County Schools and then returned to the classroom 10 years later where he taught math at Maryville High School for four years.

“It was during this time that Dr. Dalton began comparing the relationship between the administrative office and the classroom,” White said. “He came to the realization that teachers needed to be a part of the decisions that will ultimately affect them and their students.”

Dalton praised the community for supporting the city schools and the foundation. “No where in the state of Tennessee is there this level of support for education,” he said. “I think any award to a head of an organization is to recognize the success of the entire group,” he said. “I’m thankful I got to work with a lot of really talented people.”

Becky and Joe Swann were honored for their giving and involvement in the Maryville City Schools with the Family Partnership Award. Both are Maryville natives and graduates of Maryville High School.

Joe Swann has served on Maryville City Council since 1997 and was mayor from 2003 until 2009.

Becky Swann was executive director of the Maryville City School Foundation for five years. She has volunteered in the school system and has served on the Advisory Council of the Family Resource Center.

Becky Swann said she was very humbled by the award. “Education is what this community is about - everyone supports it,” she said. “I don’t feel we did anything extraordinary.”

Joe Swann said the success of the system began 200 years ago when Maryville College was founded. “You can’t build a system that performs like this one without good culture. We saw it when we were going through schools years ago, and we see it today,” he said.

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