When the Russellville Education Foundation began in 2012, it was able to award two scholarships, the Patti Kimbrough Scholarship and Dr. Wayne Ray Scholarship that first year.
Just five years later, 11 senior students were honored with foundation scholarships Monday at the foundation's annual scholarship dinner. That's a direct result of overwhelming community support for the foundation, explained one of its board members.
“It's continued to grow and we had some community members want to do scholarships this year but just give a donation and not wanting it in anyone's name,” said Foundation Secretary Kristy Gist. “We really were glad to see 11 kids go home with scholarships tonight.”
Those students included eight winners of $500 foundation scholarships, including Russellville High School seniors Tiffany Epnett, Mara Fernandez, Nate Franklin, Pedro Lucas, Stephanie Monterroso, Tristan Patrick, Mayayla Phifer and Kaidin Wallace.
Senior Slate Wallace received the $800 Raymond Grissom Scholarship. Senior Leah Nix received the $1,000 Patti Kimbrough Scholarship and Kyle Tidwell was honored with the $500 Dr. Wayne Ray Scholarship.
The foundation also honors outstanding alumni each year and this year's honorees were Lanny Norris and Dr. Susan Hall.
Norris is a 1968 RHS graduate, following the path of his father Billy, his sister and two brothers as RHS alumni. Norris was an accomplished athlete during his days at RHS and he went on to a successful football career during his education at the University of Alabama.
He's been employed the last 40 years as a State Farm agent in Russellville. He and his wife Donna have two children, both RHS alumni, and six grandchildren.
Hall is the oldest of three daughters born to Eulene and the late Sam Bradford. She graduated from RHS in 1973. Hall was a class officer, Who's Who Best All-Around and a member of the Homecoming Court, but her days in education had really yet to begin.
She's a 40-year veteran of education, including stints at Hamilton, Limestone County, Belgreen High School and Russellville City Schools beginning in 1993. She progressed to administrator and eventually system-wide curriculum coordinator. Even today after her retirement from education, Hall remains busy working at the Franklin County Chamber of Commerce. Hall is a founding member of the RCS Education Foundation.
She and her husband Terry have two children.
“I never dreamed my journey would take me to all I've been blessed to do,” Hall said. “Even today, though, my heart is still with my students.”
Monica Balding was honored as the first recipient of the Dan Hindman Award, recognizing the dedication of educators to the success of students in Russellville City Schools.
Balding, a 22-year veteran of the classroom, teaches fifth grade at Russellville Elementary School. She teaches math and social studies and sponsors student council. She and her husband Gene, also a teacher, have two children.
The RCS Education Foundation is a nonprofit organization created to provide educational opportunities for students, today and in the future. The Foundation operates under the oversight of the 15-member Board of Directors, all of whom have the system's needs and interests at heart.