By Chase Gosman
Education is more than just learning information. School is the place we meet our best friends in life. A best friend doesn’t have to be a peer; they can be a teacher as well. A good teacher educates a student on a subject, but a great teacher makes the student love the subject, and The Sondheim Inspirational Teachers Award honors great educators who do just that.
The award is in honor of one of America’s greatest musical theater composers, Stephen Sondheim. Marking Sondheim’s 80th birthday, The Kennedy Center recognizes teachers who inspire new generations of artists.
Theater director Chris Bundy received the award late last month along with nine other honorees across the country. Bundy, who has been teaching at FC for 15 years, was nominated by former student Michael Chandler. Chandler graduated in 2005 and was part of the theater program. Chandler is one of the many students greatly impacted by Bundy.
“It is very touching that Michael Chandler nominated him because he [Bundy] made such a big impact on his life,” said principal Janie Whaley.
“It makes me stop and think what teachers made an impact on me,” said Whaley.
For Bundy, the teacher that sparked his love of the arts started in junior high school with his English teacher Mrs. Nale. He was interested in literature while studying Great Expectations in her class.
“She made the story come alive, not just something to be read. When I got to high school, I became interested in theatre and went from a solid ‘C’ student to an A & B student because I finally found something that totally turned me on to school and education and actually wanting to learn,” said Bundy.
Bundy said the most rewarding part about being a teacher is seeing his kids mature into adults.
“ I often see shy and unconfident ‘kids’ find their voice, whether that is through acting or the technical aspects of theatre and the arts, become outgoing, confident young adults who will make a difference in this world,” he said.
It is this interest in his kids that shows that while he may be leaving the FC staff, he will not fade away.
“It really doesn’t matter how old they become….they will always be ‘my kids’ and that’s a pretty great thing,” said Bundy. The award includes a check of $10,000.
“That money has been put away in what I’ll call my ‘travel fund’ to go out all over the country to enjoy seeing my ‘kids’ in their productions from college to Broadway. Because, like I said, once you’re my kid, you’re my kid for life.”