San Marcos Academy presents awards each school year to faculty and staff members who go above and beyond the call of duty. Recognized this year for their contributions to the Academy were Dr. Jacob Scott, Mrs. Rebecca Nash, Mr. James Portis, and Mrs. Mattie Howard.
Presented to a faculty member every three years, the Jack and Bobbie Byrom Endowed Chair recognizes Christian character, superior performance in teaching, contributions to Academy life, and church and community service. Members of the Academy faculty are asked to nominate candidates for the award, which is named in honor of former Academy President Jack Byrom and his late wife, Bobbie. The recipient for 2020-2023 is Dr. Jacob Scott.
Dr. Scott teaches middle and upper school religion classes at the Academy and assists with middle school chapel services. “Dr. Scott is masterful at engaging students in God’s story,” Academic Dean Bob Wiegand said. “The students role played dramas and events from the Bible. They write introspective journals. They create their own Christian music videos. They learn Biblical stories and principles by engaging in hands on projects. In short, Jacob Scott is a very good teacher, and his peers have recognized that in nominating him for this award.”
The B.A. Copass, Sr., Award for Teaching Excellence is presented to a full-time faculty member who embodies teaching excellence, a progressive and professional attitude, excellent student-teacher rapport, school and community service. Fellow teachers nominate candidates for the award, and this year, a tie led to the announcement of co-winners: Rebecca Nash, first grade teacher, and James Portis, middle and upper mathematics instructor.
“I have known Rebecca Nash to be an excellent teacher for some time now and tried to persuade her to teach for me in the Navarro ISD several years back,” Dean Wiegand said. “As we began to grow in the Lower School level at the Academy, I was informed that Mrs. Nash was contemplating a return to public school teaching, and I asked, ‘Why not SMA?’ We asked her to visit and observe the Lower School campus in action, and she was hooked. In her first year as a teacher at SMA, her cohorts have recognized what I saw in her a number of years back. She is very good at her craft, and she is relational with her families and students. God clearly had a plan for her to be at SMA.”
James Portis has been at the Academy for several years, working previously in the boys residence hall. Although he had been out of the classroom for some time, circumstances aligned this year to put him back into a teaching role at the Academy in the mathematics department.
“Mr. Portis brings a good blend of high expectations, passion for his subject, empathy, and compassion for students,” Mr. Wiegand said. “He leads students to water and exhorts them to drink. He may even dunk them occasionally. As a mainstay at SMA, Mr. Portis already had a good reputation as a Christian man, and in the course of only one year in the Academy classroom, his peers have now acknowledged his excellent teaching skills.”
A final end-of-year award at the Academy is the Victor H. Schmidt Presidential Servant Leadership Award, given in memory of former Academy President Vic Schmidt. This award is presented to a full-time staff member who demonstrates loyalty, duty, respect, selfless service, honor, integrity and personal courage. All staff and faculty at the Academy are invited to nominate individuals for the award.
This year’s recipient was Mrs. Mattie Howard, assistant director of admissions at the Academy. “Mrs. Howard deserves a great deal of credit for the phenomenal growth of the Lower School program,” said Snuffy Smith, Vice President for Administration. “She helped recruit our first two classes when the program was launched three years ago, and has continued to work with Lower School families as they go through the admissions process. She has a long history with the Academy and is often behind the scenes, supporting our fine arts program, athletics department, Alumni Association, Cub Network, and much more. She exemplifies servant leadership not only through her work in the admissions office but also through her dedication to the Academy as a whole.”