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Annual Don Tarvin Awards Celebrate Faculty, Staff for Exceptional Leadership, Service


July 26, 2019 By Webb Alumni Office

Webb School of Knoxville takes pride in the gifts, skills and accomplishments of its students, and each year, hosts numerous events for the Webb community to celebrate student achievement. In April, however, a special all-school ceremony is held to recognize the contributions and talents of the school’s faculty and staff.

Webb School’s Tarvin Award recognition ceremony celebrates the winners of the school’s Donald L. Tarvin Award, given annually to members of the faculty and staff, who in their daily relationships with students, parents, peers, and the community exemplify the qualities of moral, ethical and spiritual leadership that Webb School seeks to impart to its students. Winners of the Tarvin Award – a teacher from each division and one staff member, campus-wide – are voted upon by their peers.

The Donald L. Tarvin Award was established in 1995 by Mr. and Mrs. Joseph L. Johnson, parents of David ’90, Jonathan ’93 (current Webb parent) and Robert Johnson in honor of Donald L. Tarvin – teacher, coach, plant manager, camp director, friend, and counselor to generations of Webb students. Webb School mourned the passing of Don Tarvin, who died April 2, 2018. His wife, Pat, was in attendance at this year’s ceremony. Don and Pat Tarvin’s daughter and longtime Webb faculty member/administrator, Terri Ward ’75, and Robert Johnson were also present.

The following faculty/staff members are the recipients of this year’s Donald L. Tarvin Award in recognition of their exemplary service to Webb School:

CYNTHIA STEVERSON, third grade teacher
Faculty recipient of Webb’s 2019 Donald L. Tarvin Award for the Lower School
“Cynthia is described as a dedicated teacher who is always focused on doing the right thing,” President Michael McBrien told the audience in Webb’s Lee Athletic Center. He added that Steverson’s classroom is academic, creative, structured and organized. “You can walk by her classroom and see her dancing with her kids for brain break, and ending every day with a handshake, high five, hug, or fist bump,” he said. McBrien noted that Steverson always looks for the best in her students and is loyal and honest. “She is a teacher that goes above and beyond year after year,” he continued. “One colleague commented, ‘Students learn more than just curriculum in her classroom. They learn to be outstanding citizens.’ She is respected by her peers for her ability to model excellence, precision and high standards in her every action.”

KAREN STEPHENS, eighth grade math teacher
Faculty recipient of Webb’s 2019 Donald L. Tarvin Award for the Middle School
“Karen has dedicated her life to Webb School. She has been described as a guardian angel; she is warm, reassuring and caring. She holds high standards and believes in the dreams of her students,” McBrien said. He praised Stephens not only for her excellence in teaching, but also the personal impact she makes on her students, and shared the following comments from some of Stephens’ former students: “I love her – I know that she cared that I learned, I’m coming down to see her before I take my math final this year, I am so glad that she was a part of my education.” McBrien added that each day, Karen Stephens models choosing to be positive and engaged, even when times are tough and the work is hard.

JOHN SCHMID ’86, Upper School social studies teacher
Faculty recipient of Webb’s 2019 Donald L. Tarvin Award for the Upper School
President McBrien described Schmid as “Webb’s biggest cheerleader, a true Spartan through and through, and a phenomenal teacher.” He commended Schmid for his involvement in and dedication to the Webb community – from class dean to sponsoring summer trips for students to advising a variety of different clubs. “One colleague commented that John Schmid’s connections with students in and outside of the classroom gives students a true sense of community,” noted McBrien. “He is admired for his positive attitude, his willingness to be a listening ear, his sense of humor, and his passion.”

TOMMI GOODWIN, Health Center Director
Staff recipient of Webb’s 2019 Donald L. Tarvin Award 
“Tommi has been described as the unsung hero of Webb School,” President McBrien told the Webb community. “Colleagues use the following words to describe her: selfless, inspiring, motivating, and encouraging. She will always put others before herself.” McBrien pointed out Goodwin’s unparalleled work ethic and care for the entire campus. “She talks to people from the heart,” he said, “and seems to always make time for everyone. Her presence on school trips is invaluable and her commitment to all members of our community is unwavering. From cough drops to flu shots, she goes above and beyond in caring for our students and all employees.”

The ceremony also recognized faculty and staff members who have served Webb School of Knoxville for 10 years. The following are comments by President McBrien about those being honored:

Christy Conley, Director of Webb Dance Academy
Christy Conley came to Webb School with a dream; a dream of starting a dance academy. And like many dreams at Webb, this one came true. Today, the dance program has become an amazing part of the Lower School community. With her leadership and vision through the years, over one hundred students enjoy a variety of dance classes each week. Christy’s passion for dance motivates students to join her classes, explore their interests, and shine like stars on the stage.

Krista Lee, fifth grade teacher
Krista Lee has been instrumental in developing the ethos and program for our Fifth Grade Academy. She truly inspires fifth grade students to explore the joy of literature and grammar; and her classroom overflows with engagement, curiosity and laughter each day. As a fifth grade teacher, she strives to provide opportunities for her students to develop as leaders of character.

Ricky Norris, Upper School Dean of Students; head varsity boys’ basketball coach

Ricky Norris is truly a man of character. He has been described by his colleagues as a class act, a humble man, and a great mentor for young men and women. Supportive, honest and trustworthy, Ricky is loyal to his school, sincere about his commitment to helping young people succeed in all aspects of their lives, and genuinely dedicated to the student body.

Lynne Canan, Athletics Office Assistant
Athletics has been an integral part of Lynne Canan’s entire life. She has been a Division I athlete playing for Pat Summit, she has been a coach, and for the past ten years, she has been an outstanding member of the Webb School Athletics Department. Lynne is a hard worker, a dedicated employee and an individual who truly understands athletics at Webb; willing to do whatever it takes to keep the Athletics Department running smoothly. She loves watching Webb student-athletes compete and does all she can to give them the best possible experience. She is supportive of our coaches and encouraging of all our students.

Jackie Wallace, maintenance staff member
Like many of the maintenance staff, Jackie Wallace goes about his day working behind the scenes, supporting the mission of Webb School. He always arrives by 5:30 in the morning and shares the responsibility of unlocking doors long before many of our faculty and students arrive. As he travels through campus, he makes sure nothing has occurred during the evening that would need to be taken care of before traffic gets busy. Often, he is the first person to see tree limbs that have broken off during storms or other debris on the roads that have to be removed. You will soon see him on his mower, making sure the campus looks sharp. He is a passionate sports fan and a true Spartan fan, keeping up with our sports teams’ successes. He is a valuable team member of the maintenance staff and we are fortunate to have him.

Currently, more than 90 Webb School faculty and staff members, including this year’s 10-year inductees, have worked at the school for 10 years or longer.