Reid Hightower, the 2014 Upson-Lee High School STAR Student, and her STAR Teacher, Mollie Colvin, were honored by the Thomaston Kiwanis Club at their luncheon Tuesday. The Kiwanis Club sponsors the Student Teacher Achievement Recognition (STAR) program in Upson County. Now in its 56th year, the STAR program is sponsored statewide by the Professional Association of Georgia Educators (PAGE) Foundation, the Georgia Chamber of Commerce, and the Georgia Department of Education. To become a STAR Student, a high school senior must have the highest score on a single test date on the three-part Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) and be in the top 10 percent or top 10 students of their class, based on grade point average.
Reid, the daughter of John and Juliette Hightower, thanked the Kiwanis Club for honoring her. She also thanked her mom for making her do the work.
“Nobody likes taking the SAT, which has 10 sections, at eight o’clock in the morning,” Reid said.“But,I want to thank my mom, because she pushed me to be studying for the SAT, which wasn’t any fun at all, but it obviously worked.
“I’m looking forward to life after high school. It’s going to be weird not going home after school everyday. So far I’ve been accepted to Agnes Scott College in Decatur, Georgia, on a $20,000 scholarship. I’m still waiting for the other colleges to send me letters.
“I plan to major in Psychology as an under-graduate, and then study audiology in graduate school. I’d like to be an audiologist because my step-grandmother is an audiologist and she’s really cool.”
Reid’s STAR Teacher is Mrs. Mollie Colvin. A veteran teacher whose husband, Master Sgt. Mark Colvin USMC (Ret) is also a teacher at ULHS, Colvin taught Reid in an American Literature Honors class when Reid was in the 10th grade, and Reid said she made learning interesting and fun.
“It was a really great year,” Reid said. “She also helped me practice for the SAT. One of the sections is the Writing section, where you have multiple choice questions, but you also have to write a decent essay in 25 minutes, which is difficult. After she helped me, my score went up a lot. Also, she’s just an awesome person. I talk about books with her. It takes a really special person to talk about books. Thank you for being my teacher.”
Colvin also thanked the Kiwanis Club for recognizing students and teachers for academic achievement.
“ I’ve been teaching for 34 years,” Colvin said. “I taught in three different states, and I have taught 15 years in a middle school and the rest in high school. I thought that I had pretty seen everything, heard everything and done everything. But I was surprised when Reid told me she had selected me as her STAR Teacher. I know what this means. It is definitely the highest honor any teacher can receive. It’s not about popularity or anything like that. It’s about a connection, and even if it is just one in 34 years of teaching, then it is worth every single penny, hour, and anything else that is involved with it. I know I walked for days with a little lighter step, a full heart, a new twinkle in my eye, and a new resolve to continue to try to make a difference in my classroom. That is really where I prefer to be.
“Two years ago, when I taught 10th grade American Literature Honors, it was my first and only time to teach this course. And Reid was one of my students. I realized that she and I connected. We just had an instant connection for two reasons. She walked into my room with a book this thick and I thought, ’Ooh, she understands the power of the word.’ And when we started talking books, Reid and I couldn’t stop talking books. It just continued after that. Then, of course, the second thing that is an instant connection for us is that I love classical music, and when I discovered that I had a talented violinist in my classroom, I thought, ‘Well, there’s the second connection.’
“It is not very often that you get that kind of special connection with a student,” Colvin admitted. “You like to think that it is happening with all of them every year. But once in a while you get something that you just really can’t put into words.”
“The support that comes from this community and the efforts of our students in school here in Thomaston; I’m in distinguished company, and I recognize that as well. I’m looking at community leaders, I see educators here, I thank my husband for being here. And I thank John and Juliette as well for being the type of parents that support unconditionally. Their children understand their potential. They support the teacher in their efforts to get the child there, that we all work as a community to ensure the success and the ultimate potential of a child.
“That’s all I ever really wanted to do, and if I could just get into my classroom and close the door, I’m one happy little mama. I’ve got all my little chicks in there with me. Sometimes it is a battleground. But most often it is a symphony. If it is a good day and you’ve got them all going, it’s a good day. And with Reid and her class, it was always a good day.
“So Reid, I thank you for this supreme recognition. It’s the greatest I have ever received. “
Larry Stanford may be reached at 706-647-5414 or on Twitter @LarryStanford7.