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Teacher, philanthropist honored at awards gala

by | Mar 22, 2023 | Latest

Locals, education staff and district administrators gathered for an annual awards gala highlighting the work of select individuals over their careers.

Two prestigious awards — the Elizabeth W. Garrison Award and the Garrison Legacy Award — were bestowed during the Wylie ISD Education Foundation’s annual gala, Boots ‘N Barbecue at 6 p.m. Saturday, March 18. The annual event held at Southfork Ranch featured a catered barbecue dinner, silent and live auctions, stories from grant winners and a performance from the Wylie High School Tempo Choir.

According to a news release about the gala, last year’s event was the highest earning in the history of the gala.

During stories told by educators, attendees will have the opportunity to learn how teachers use grant funding to further educate students, namely in social-emotional learning. Individuals will also have the opportunity to fund teaching ideas they find unique that evening.

“Whether it’s funding robots to teach STEAM, books to teach diversity and inclusion or kitchen equipment to teach life skills, Wylie ISD Education Foundation stands with our community to support public education and help our students thrive,” said Rhonda Blackburn, foundation president. “The support of Boots ‘N Barbecue enables Wylie ISD Education Foundation to continue its mission for our children, their children, and generations into the future.”

After gathering for a meal and perusing auction items, attendees were able to recognize the award winners.

This year’s Elizabeth W. Garrison winner was Diane Klingbeil, a teacher at Hartman Elementary School. Klingbeil is known for her dedication to Wylie youth, including those who may be food insecure. 

She has provided meals for students in the district who may be in need of food assistance and has supported others by purchasing animals during the annual Wylie Livestock Show and Sale. 

In addition to directly supporting students, Klingbeil and her husband, Ronny, set up an endowment fund through RLK Engineering that provides grants to teachers on a yearly basis.

The other award winner from the evening was Raymond Cooper, who became the first winner of the Garrison Legacy Award. He is known for building and developing the first industrial park in the city.

Cooper is the namesake of Cooper Junior High School and also helped found the Wylie Christian Care Center. Additionally, he helped organize the Wylie Chamber of Commerce and Wylie Economic Development Corporation.

“This year’s Garrison Award honorees represent trailblazers in the community in different and inspiring ways,” said Windi Fuller, executive director for Wylie ISD Education Foundation. “Diane’s work in the schools and Mr. Cooper’s work in the community will benefit students for generations.”

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