Wednesday, May 20, 2015

The 2015 Teresa Shirlen Freed Spirit Award

Teresa Shirlen Freed was an awesome teacher.  She taught 9th grade English and Public Speaking in Howard County, first at Mt. Hebron High School in Ellicott City, MD, and, later, at Reservoir High School upon its opening in 2002, in Fulton, MD.  Mrs. Freed was a hard grader, I'm told, but she was well respected for being not only very nice, but also a lot of fun.  Students found out hers wasn't an easy class, but she knew how to keep their attention because she was good at her craft.  She loved standing in front of her classes, just as the orchestra leader stands in front of the band, directing the action and showing them the way.  It was because she loved teaching, and she was good at it.

I was fortunate to have known this wonderful young lady, and she grabbed my heart and wouldn't let go.  We were married in 1999, and we had a wonderful marriage.  She made me laugh, and I was happier during our time together than just about any other time in my life.  She had a way about her that lifted my spirit whenever I had a rough day, and we made a great team as husband and wife.  God was first in our marriage, and I'm so glad that we lived our lives the way God wanted us to live them.  It was true love.

Teresa Shirlen Freed passed away suddenly and unexpectedly on April 19, 2004, five short months after bringing our little daughter, Melody, into the world.  She left a void in so many lives, not only mine and my Melody's, but all those whose lives were touched by her incredible soul.  That includes her family, her friends, her co-workers, and also her students.  It was because of the way she affected us that we were determined to keep her memory alive, and Reservoir High School and Mrs. Freed's family put together a scholarship award in her name, called the Teresa Shirlen Freed Spirit Award, and it is given annually to one student who is a leader, who possesses school spirit, who participates in or goes to many school activities, and who is strong in speech/debate.  They must also attend a college in the Maryland State System, since Mrs. Freed went to the University of Maryland, a school she loved, thrived in, and graduated from.

Last evening, Melody and I were in attendance at Reservoir High School for the Class of 2015 "Evening of Excellence," the awards night for the Seniors at the school, and where the Teresa Shirlen Freed Spirit Award would be presented.  Mrs. Margaret Brothman, a colleague and friend of Mrs. Shirlen, and a wonderful teacher at Reservoir who continues to carry the torch for the English Department, presented the award, and Melody and I joined her on stage.  Here is what Mrs. Brothman said:

This next scholarship is significant to me because it is always awarded to a very special student, in memory of Mrs. Teresa Shirlen Freed, someone close to my heart. Teachers in the English department selected this student because she exemplifies certain characteristics that were so important to Mrs. Freed.  Mrs. Freed was a teacher, sponsor, team leader, co-worker, mentor and friend to many students and staff members at Reservoir High School. She was one of the first teachers I met before the school opened 13 years ago, and not only was her character of the highest caliber, but she also represented the epitome of teaching excellence.  Teresa’s husband, Eric, and daughter, Melody, are here today.

In her memory, and through the donations of family members, colleagues, community members and friends, this scholarship is bestowed on a student who is a leader, who possesses school spirit, who participates in or goes to many school activities, and who is strong in speech/debate. This individual must also attend a College in the Maryland State System as Mrs. Freed was a true Maryland fan.  It is through this recognition that the spirit of Mrs. Freed continues to live on and flourish.  

This year’s recipient of the Teresa Shirlen Freed Spirit Award is a former student of mine who is known for her truly sunny disposition.  She is a positive light in the lives of many.  She successfully leads and encourages others in the classroom, on the field hockey turf, as an SGA officer, and as a volunteer at St. Agnes Hospital where her weekly duties involve assisting elderly patients with mental illnesses. She sets high standards for herself and consistently works hard to achieve accolades as a student.  Learning is important to her, as is integrity.  Next year she will attend the University of Maryland, College Park, (Mrs. Freed’s Alma Mater) where she has been accepted into the Cultures and Creativity Honors Program and hopes to affect social change and justice on public health issues through a variety of media platforms.

It gives me great pleasure to present this award to Miss Emily Blanchard.

Miss Blanchard is an incredibly talented and gifted young lady and is a wonderful example of the type of student that Mrs. Freed loved to teach.  We wish her well in her future endeavors, and extend our best wishes to her and her family.  Congratulations, Miss Emily Blanchard, on being named the 2015 Teresa Shirlen Freed Spirit Award winner!

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