A cornerstone of the Weatherford community for many years, the late Roger Grizzard was among 15 individuals honored Friday by the State Board of Education with a 2019 Heroes for Children Award.
The ceremony was held in the William B. Travis State Office Building in Austin. Recipients and/or their families were presented a plaque recognizing their service, a copy of a board resolution honoring their service, and a certificate of recognition from the governor, along with photographs from the ceremony.
Also, each hero’s name will be engraved on a perpetual plaque that is permanently displayed at the Texas Education Agency.
His widow, Jeanine Grizzard, and daughter, Holly Grizzard Ferguson, and her family accepted the award on Roger’s behalf.
“Roger Grizzard had a passion for helping students that lasted far beyond his teaching years,” Weatherford School District Superintendent Dr. Jeffrey Hanks said. “We are most grateful that the State Board of Education selected him as a recipient of the 2019 Heroes for Children award.”
Grizzard, who died at the age of 72 in late May in an automobile accident in Hockley County, served the Weatherford school district for 21 years as a social studies teacher.
When he left teaching and focused all of his attention on running his restaurant, The Pizza Place, his passion for ensuring student success continued. He gave many students jobs at the restaurant. He also held election night watch parties and political discussion groups for students at his restaurant.
Grizzard served on the Weatherford ISD Education Foundation board of directors. He sponsored fundraisers, donated food for concession stands, and attended numerous student activities such as athletic events, theater productions and band, choir, and drill team performances.
In 2014, Grizzard became the first recipient of Weatherford’s True Blue Kangaroo Fan award. Among his many accolades, Grizzard was also voted Outstanding Citizen by the Weatherford Chamber of Commerce, and was awarded the James Doss Award for community service.
Grizzard’s philosophy was community service is mandatory, not an option. Whatever you put into the community will be returned to you.
Also from the area, Loretta Burns from the Fort Worth school district was a recipient.
Burns founded the AB Christian Learning Center, which provides academic enrichment programs. As an outgrowth of this work, Burns started the Freedom School in 2014. This is a free six-week program that focuses on summer reading and cultural enrichment for disadvantaged students. Instruction in this program is delivered by trained college interns.
Participating students receive a free book each week. Burns is also a member of the executive council for Read Fort Worth, which is a coalition of community and business leaders who partner with Fort Worth ISD as it works towards the goal of having 100 percent of third-grade students reading at or above grade level by 2025.
Collectively, the 15 award recipients have donated 179 years of service to Texas public schools. Each year one outstanding school volunteer is selected to receive the award from each SBOE district. Grizzard represented District 11 and Burns District 13.
With this year’s group of honorees, the SBOE has now recognized 465 Texans with this award over the past quarter century.
“The amount of service provided by these 15 Heroes for Children award recipients is awe inspiring. These volunteers daily demonstrate a huge commitment to their communities and to children,” SBOE Chair Donna Bahorich said. “They provide important services that have literally changed the lives of children. We hope they will inspire others to volunteer in their local schools.”