JOPLIN, Mo. —
There are two sides to every story. Zephan Wade, a senior at Carthage High School, said he moved from a small school with a class of 12, and wanted to stand out in this new, bigger group of students.
Teacher Caroline Tubbs helped him do just that, he said.
“I wanted to be the best in a class of 256,” Wade said. “I wasn’t able to do that until I met (Tubbs). Without her wit and sarcasm to put me in my place, I wouldn’t be nearly as successful.”
But Tubbs said that Wade was already on his way. Two years ago he walked into her AP language class, filled with 33 sharp students, and worked hard to distinguish himself.
“He walked in whistling,” Tubbs said. “The others didn’t whistle. He also always had a pun, double entendre or wordplay.”
New way of thinking
Tubbs said that Wade eventually talked to her about thinking in different styles. The straight-laced, logic-minded Wade eventually came around to Tubbs’ abstract thinking, based on a high number of conversations -- many during Wade’s open hour, she said.
“I’m abstract,” Tubbs said. “He thought I was weird, and he had to explore someone who thinks like that.”
The teacher-student relationship was one of many highlighted during the 26th annual honor banquet for members of The Joplin Globe’s All-Area Academic Excellence Team. Twenty-two students from around the region were picked as the heads of their class, based on test performance and academic success.
Being chosen to the Globe’s team is difficult. It is based on a score developed from a student’s grade point average and ACT or SAT score. The formula used to pick winners ensures that top quality students make the team -- not just those who test well.
Students who make the team are invited to a banquet where they honor a teacher they feel aided their academic careers.
That nomination is a sign of gratitude that teachers appreciate deeply, said Georgiana McGriff, educational services coordinator for the Globe. She has 29 years of experience in education as a teacher, principal and assistant superintendent.
“Every single thing teachers do or say -- every look they make, every smile they give -- has an effect on a child,” McGriff said. “It’s rare that the kids say, ‘Thank you.’ Some just don’t feel comfortable saying that. To have a nomination, that means if this is one student who took the time, there are many more students who feel the same way.”
The banquet, held Monday at Billingsly Student Center at Missouri Southern State University, featured students and teachers cherishing relationships that led to academic success and mutual growth.
“Teachers get a bad rap,” said Kathleen Ely, a language arts teacher at East Newton High School who was chosen by two members of this year’s team. “We hear about all the negativity of teaching. But nights like tonight tell us that it is a privilege to teach.”