Top students say ‘thanks’

A teacher’s influence can last long after a child leaves their classroom, and even after the teacher leaves this life.

Marietta High School senior Brianna Rosen demonstrated that Thursday night in selecting the late Ann Druss as her honored educator for the school’s 26th annual Academic Excellence dinner, held at the Marietta Shrine Club.

“Mrs. Druss taught me music, and really she was an inspiration to me because she taught me lessons that didn’t only apply to music,” Rosen said. “She really taught me passion for music and just a passion for living life to the fullest.”

Druss taught Rosen the flute in sixth and seventh grades during her tenure with Marietta City Schools, which also included a stint as director of the high school’s Wall of Sound. Rosen said Druss also instilled in her a dedication that she would carry into other areas of life.

“She pushed me to do my best,” she said.

Druss passed away in 2010 after a battle with cancer. Her husband of 30 years, Raymond, attended Thursday’s dinner on her behalf.

“That’s pretty awesome,” he said of Rosen’s choice. “She would’ve enjoyed it. She’d be really impressed. She loved to teach music.”

Rosen was one of 49 MHS students who earned at least a 3.5 gpa and were asked to select an influential educator from their lives to honor Thursday. Some chose teachers who showed them new appreciation for subjects they hadn’t liked, while others named a teacher or coach who helped them improve in an area they already enjoyed. In descriptions they wrote and high school guidance counselor James Thrash read, many told how the honoree influenced them beyond the classroom.

For Shannara Stetson, it was something that happened after school that led her to choose her sixth-grade social studies teacher, Patrilla Nichols.

Stetson recalled being bullied in her early school years and said she remembered sitting alone after school one day, looking down at the ground, as Nichols was leaving.

“She was driving off, stopped, backed up, leaned out the window and said, ‘Are you OK?'” Stetson said.

Intervention by teachers in the past only seemed to delay the bullying for a bit, Stetson said. It was different with Phillips.

“As far as the bullying goes, she managed to just stamp it out immediately,” Stetson said.

Nichols said she appreciated knowing she’d helped Stetson.

“As a teacher, you never know the impact that you’re going to have on a child,” she said.

Jordan Satterfield went to Putnam Elementary School but chose a fifth-grade teacher at Phillips Elementary as his honoree – his mother, Susan.

“She’s a great educator, from since I was little ’til now, life lessons, helping with homework,” Jordan said.

Although she never had her son in class, “he had to endure homework guidelines, strict,” Susan Satterfield said. “Sometimes he may have thought it was too strict.”

Jordan wasn’t alone in naming a parent as his honored educator.

Savannah Falter chose her father, Marietta College Associate Professor James Falter. This was her first year attending the high school, having spent the six previous years in an online school setting, so she had more of a connection to him.

“And my dad and I are a lot alike,” she said, drawing nods of agreement from her mother, Kellie.

James Falter said he didn’t know about Savannah’s choice until they arrived at the dinner. He said he was honored but felt the evening was really a recognition of his daughter’s work.

“It’s really about her accomplishments, not me,” he said.

Kaitlyn Cozzens’ selection was her father, MHS girls basketball coach Scott Cozzens. She transferred to Marietta to play for him four years ago and said there was never a question of where sports fit in as a priority.

“(He) pushes me to do my best at school,” Kaitlyn said. “He’s always told me, school is first and (basketball) is second.”

That attitude extended to her teammates as well.

“A lot of these kids learn the hard way sometimes, sports ends pretty quickly,” Scott Cozzens said.

If players are having trouble academically, coaches try to get them the help they need, he said. Regular progress checks are done and he also tries to regularly communicate with the girls about how they’re doing in their classes.

“Sometimes they’ll open up to me or another coach where they won’t open up to a teacher or a parent,” Scott Cozzens said.

Also honored Thursday was crew coach Eric Dowler, chosen by Holden Weihl.

“He just kind of set an example for all of us, showed us how to be a grown man to a certain extent,” Weihl said. “He worked us really hard. He made sure that when we did win, we were humble.”

Dowler said it was an honor and a pleasure to be selected, and he hoped he imparted similar lessons to other students.