Social Eyes by Faye Reeder

Eyes on Arlington: Teaching excellence honored with cash awards by AWARE Foundation

The 2015 Awards of Excellence winners will speak at the 2016 event.
The 2015 Awards of Excellence winners will speak at the 2016 event. Courtesy photo

As students prepare to advance soon to the next grade level, no better time to recognize the teachers that nurture them. That’s why the timing is perfect for the AWARE Foundation’s annual Celebration of Excellence awards dinner May 10 at the UTA Bluebonnet Ballroom.

“The banquet is the culmination of a year’s worth of work and the perfect showcase to honor all our fine nominees,” said Beth Hellier, who heads the selection committee. Hellier explained that the process begins when the general public is invited to nominate teachers who go beyond the day-to-day demands of their position to create an exceptional educational environment.

Teachers from pre-kindergarten through high school who are nominated in five grade-level categories are then observed in the classroom by a selection committee composed of volunteers. The committee chooses winners and runners-up, who are revealed at the banquet and receive an unrestricted cash award. Members of the AWARE Foundation say the big winners, though, are the students who benefit from the effective teaching of the honored educators.

“Rewarding outstanding teachers is what the AWARE Foundation is all about. We want every teacher nominated to know their dedication and hard work is appreciated,” said AWARE President Gena Williams.

“Our generous donors enable us to give meaningful cash awards not only to those receiving the Awards of Excellence but also a small cash award to each educator who is nominated. Nominees each receive a $50 award, and $100 goes to each finalist.”

Since it was founded in 1989, the AWARE Foundation has given more than $400,000 to around 300 Arlington teachers. The payday at the May 10 banquet where 54 nominees will be introduced translates into nearly $25,000 going home with the honorees. The five honored with the Awards of Excellence will each receive $3,000, while runners-up receive $1,500 each.

In charge of the banquet is Ouida Garner, who said the festive event will be an evening to remember. Hellier added, “Amazing speeches, presented by the prior-year winners, are always inspirational. And of course, the audience energy level peaks as we announce the new winners and runners-up.”

Garner said guests can still expect the massive prize drawing for dozens of gift cards and goodies, which is a signature element of the occasion each year.

Tickets are $35 per person, and reservations are due by Tuesday. Contact Garner at 817-277-5726 to make arrangements. Learn more at

Roger Staubach headlines Salvation Army luncheon May 4

Former Dallas Cowboys quarterback and NFL Hall of Famer Roger Staubach will be the keynote speaker at the Salvation Army’s second annual Inspiring Hope luncheon May 4 at AT&T Stadium in Arlington. Outstanding live entertainment is also planned.

“Roger Staubach is a longtime supporter of the Salvation Army, and we are so grateful he will join us as keynote speaker at our upcoming luncheon,” wrote Capt. Jennifer Jones, corps officer of the Salvation Army of Arlington-Mansfield.

Singer-songwriter Aquile, a Season 3 contestant on NBC’s The Voice, will give a singing performance. Also performing will be the Salvation Army’s Harbor Light Choir from Houston. The choir is composed of current and former substance abuse program participants who are working successfully toward recovery. Men in the choir make a one-year commitment to perform as a part of their work therapy.

Local business owners and community leaders Steve Vincent and Mark Caffey are co-chairmen of the event. Charlotte Jones Anderson, Cowboys executive vice president, is the honorary chairwoman. Anderson is a longtime supporter of the Salvation Army and serves on the DFW Metroplex advisory board.

“Funds raised from the Inspiring Hope luncheon will help us to continue providing safe, quality programming for children and their families through our Youth Education Town and sheltering families in crisis through our Family Life Center,” Jones said.

Proceeds will go toward supporting the Gene and Jerry Jones Family North Texas Youth Education Town and the Family Life Center. The Youth Education Town responds to the needs of Arlington residents living below the poverty line by offering activities to disadvantaged youths including homework help, tutoring programs, a life-lessons curriculum, and nutrition and creative arts programs.

The Family Life Center provides a shelter where homeless families can live together in their own apartment as they strive to get back on their feet.

Tickets are $150 per person, and sponsorships beginning at $1,500 are available. Purchase tickets at or contact Bridget Lenhardt at 817-860-1836 to learn more.

Fielder Plant Festival promises a fun Saturday

Ready to get some great plants for that spring garden? Then head to the Fielder House Museum from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m Saturday for the Fielder Plant Festival hosted by the Arlington Garden Club.

Plants grown by club members will be for sale, and while you’re there you can hear talks on gardening with native plants, bees, birds, butterflies, composting and stormwater pollution each hour from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Do some shopping at exhibitors including Gourds by Robbie Pritchard, Curves of Steel, Gardner’s Ribbons & Lace, Elbert Seal Hanging Baskets, Judith’s Glass Concepts and the Native Plant Society.

“We are excited to share our love of gardening, plants, butterflies and pollinators with everyone,” said club President Kat McCollum. “The proceeds from this sale will be used to purchase a sign for the Memorial Rose Garden, which was created by the club in April 2001.”

Festival committee members Geraldine Mills, Martha Martin and Susan Henderson Hughes have arranged more fun by scheduling interesting gardening demonstrations throughout the day along with a fun raffle, bake sale and cake walk.

Admission is free, and the venue is at 1616 W. Abram St. Call 817-460-4001 to inquire, or visit the Arlington Garden Club Facebook page for more.

Choral group cuts loose in Spring Fling show

The beautiful voices of the Arlington Master Chorale are best known for their performances of mostly classical music. But their annual fundraising show, Spring Fling — set for May 6 at Arlington Music Hall — offers the audience a dramatic departure from their normal repertoire.

“The Spring Fling is the chorale’s opportunity to loosen up its normally formal classical boundaries of choral music and produce a show of solos and small ensembles of a lighter scale,” said director Randy Jordan, who will also emcee the event. “This year we have chosen a theme of songs from favorite movies including the Wizard of Oz, O Brother Where Art Thou, Lilies of the Field and Meet Me In St. Louis, among others.”

Jordan explained that this is the last year the show will offer free admission along with a reception offering complimentary food and soft drinks. “The only thing we ask in return is for the patrons to bring their checkbooks and give a generous donation to AMC for next year’s season.”

The venue is at 100 N. Center St. Contact Jordan at, or visit to learn more.

Events at a glance

  • Pre-Mother’s Day Bake and Craft Sale is Sunday at Most Blessed Sacrament Church, 2100 N. Davis Drive. Hosted by the Arlington Grandmothers Club, the sale will be open after the 8, 10, and 11 a.m. services. Homemade goodies, a quilt and wine raffle and affordable crafts. Benefits CUR . (Children’s Cancer Research). Information via Laureen Jacobs at
  • Nominations for Legacy of Women Award due May 20. If you know a woman leaving a legacy in our community, nominate her for the 2016 Legacy of Women Award. The award, sponsored by SafeHaven of Tarrant County, honors local women for their outstanding achievements in the fields of arts, business, education, health and human services and volunteerism. The winners will be presented at the 24th annual Legacy of Women Awards Luncheon in October. Information, criteria and nomination forms at, or call 817-502-7132.
  • Salute to Small Business luncheon is May 5 at the Sheraton Arlington Hotel. The event is co-hosted by the Arlington Chamber of Commerce to celebrate National Small Business Week. Arlington’s Small Businesses of the Year will be honored. TV personality Scott Murray will emcee, and the event will have seminars, luncheon and an expo. Register at, or contact Henry Lewczyk at 817-543-4284.

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