Teachers can have a profound effect on their students, and Calvert High School selected six of them who did just that when it held its eighth annual Faculty Hall of Fame ceremony May 19 at the school.
The school added Daniel Brown, Jayme Cockrell, Horace Greeley Funn, Kaye Oliver, Juanita White and Benjamin Williams. The six new members are the most since 1998. There are now 38 members in Calvert’s hall of fame, which began in 1997.
“You’re all are joining a significant group of educators who have dedicated a large part of their lives to Brooks High School or Calvert High School,” Director of Secondary School Improvement Susan Johnson said, referring to the former all-black high school, which merged with Calvert High in 1966.
“I’m very excited,” said Cockrell, who taught math for 30 years, and was genuinely touched that two of her former students were in the audience. “It just warms my heart.”
“I think it’s a fantastic honor that the inductees, including myself, could receive and a great appreciation,” said Williams, who taught social studies from 1966 to 2012. “I’ll always remember it.”
Williams may always remember the ceremony, but his presenter, Charles Gustin, will always remember the first time he met Williams.
“They were renovating the science wing so I’m in this trailer on my first day of school [in 1999] and I hear this bagpiping music. I’m thinking, ‘What is going on?’” Gustin said. “So I go out on my porch and this gentleman is playing the bagpipes as the kids walk by to go to the busses. I’m thinking, ‘Is this the beginning of an event or something special?’ It wasn’t, but it was the start of a special relationship.”
Gustin also spoke of how Williams seemed to stay in his trailer for hours after classes were over.
“I would go to his class every day after school and there would be kids there,” Gustin said. “I don’t know what time he left. I really don’t, but I think he eventually left. And they couldn’t kick him out, so he was quite literally the last person to pack up.”
Williams was a fixture in the social studies department for 46 years and taught history, anthropology, archaeology, literature and sociology.
“Five years before I retired [in 2012] my principal asked if would go to the board of education to pick up this grandfather clock,” Williams said. “[I guessed] they couldn’t give it to anybody because nobody had been there that long.”
Williams is credited with starting several school programs including the sailing club and rugby teams.
Brown taught in the county for 39 years, 27 of them at Calvert High and 10 as a vice principal at Huntingtown High. He was also a two-time Calvert High School Teacher of the Year, a Calvert County Teacher of the Year and The Washington Post Agnes Meyer Teacher of the Year.
“I had the opportunity to work with young people and hopefully play a part and try and do something to help them on their journey, and I was privileged to have had that opportunity,” Brown said. “In all the time there were the blueprints to build this school, oh, I wanted to work here, but I never got an opportunity. That’s no disrespect to Huntingtown; I enjoyed my years there and it was a pleasure and a privilege, but as I’ve said before, my heart bleeds blue and gold.”
Current Calvert High Principal Steven Lucas said as he introduced Brown, “He’s had so much influence on children and now adults so to try and paint a picture to capture the impact he’s had on so many people is pretty daunting.”
Cockrell was at Calvert High from 1987 to 2017 and was a department chair for 17 years.
“I’ve made so many friendships from my time here and I’m also grateful for my friendships with fellow staff members,” Cockrell said. “I spent my whole career at one place. The best place. Calvert High School.”
“Jayme came here, and she and [hall of fame emcee] Donna Wallmark were known as the dynamic duo,” presenter Gil Zalc said. “Jayme was one of the best teachers I’ve ever known. Period.”
Funn taught at William Sampson Brooks High School from 1938 to 1943 and was named principal in 1942 and 1943. He returned as principal in 1945 until the desegregation of Calvert County schools in 1966. He retired in 1975 after a 35-year career and died in 1976.
“This has been a long time coming,” said Malcolm Funn of his father. “I’ve talked to a number of people and they say, ‘Your father was my principal,’ and I have to tell them, ‘Yes, he was mine too, but after school you went home and that was it.’ But [my brother] Charles and I can tell you that we did not get a break. If you thought he was a disciplinarian at school, you should have been home with us.”
“He had words of encouragement for me when I was young and he told me that I had a great opportunity if I stuck to it,” said presenter Russell Costley, who was a student of Horace Greeley Funn’s. “Well, I did for 30 years so I must have done something right. What a man. If he didn’t agree with something you did, he was going to come up to you whether you liked it or not.”
Oliver taught from 1990 to 2015, and while there held many positions, teaching government, economics and history.
“There was a book that described the art of teaching and I never forgot that because teaching is an art,” Oliver said. “And it will never be something that technology can replace. You have to be dedicated no matter what the hours are, you have to do the task, you have to have a presence about you. You have to have a passion, and you want to have to live on the edge, never want to be bored. I survived.”
“She was a mentor, somebody I could always go to,” said presenter Dawn Lister. “She also taught my son, and he’s told me on many occasions that she was the best teacher he’s ever had.”
White taught art and design, earth science, and family and consumer science from 1974 through 2011. She also sponsored several school-based clubs and was awarded the Nancy Grasmick Excellent Award: Minority Achievement Calvert County (2005), Board of Education Employee of the Month (2002) and Calvert High School Teacher of the Year (2008) before she retired in 2011.
“This is the only place I’ve ever been, and it’s the place that I’ve adopted as my home,” White said. “Some of my students, I don’t remember their names, but I always remember their faces. I know that [as a teacher] I fulfilled a purpose in life.”
“My freshman year everyone was talking about Miss White,” said presenter Lisa Howard, referring to 1974, which was also White’s first year. “This very small, petite woman with a loud voice that was caring, compassionate, loving teacher. Everyone wanted to be in Miss White’s classroom.”