Scholar-athlete Eric Bailey was honored as scholar of the year and science teacher Ryan Heber was honored as teacher of the year Monday at the spring Renaissance rally in Mullen gym.
Bailey has a 4.3 GPA and is ranked No. 1 among the 209 graduating seniors.
Bailey plans to study law at the University of California, Davis. He also is a three-sport athlete: right tackle in football, center in basketball, and shot put and discus thrower and sprinter in track. He qualified for Valley three years in a row as a shot putter. He is considering pursuing football or track at Davis.
In January, Bailey received a letter of commendation from the National Merit Scholarship Corporation as a commended student in the 2013 National Merit Scholarship Program, an honor bestowed on 34,000 U.S. high school seniors, the top 3 percent.
Heber was praised by students for being strong, fair and helpful, always being in a good mood and for getting to know his students. Two months ago, he was nominated by fellow teachers to represent Taft High in the county teacher of the year competition.
The standout science teacher is respected as a teacher adept at establishing good rapport with his students. “I try to create relationships (with students) along the way because it’s all we’ve got. I’ve always enjoyed my job because I feel like I’m coming to hang out with friends,” he said.
The good will he creates with students was especially important on the morning of Jan. 10 when he helped talk an alleged student shooter into setting down his shotgun.
Heber told the packed gym that what he learned from the tragedy is: “I just think people need to be a little nicer to each other.”
Afterward, he said, “I was very touched and thankful. It is nice to be honored and especially nice to have my family here to share it with me.”
He was surrounded by his wife, Emmy Lou, an accounting analyst in the business office at Taft High; their two sons, Brock, 5, and Ty, 3; his mother,retired Taft High English teacher Carol Sue Heber; and his father David.
Heber is a 1991 TUHS graduate. In high school, he was the ASB president, the football center and a member of the Key Club. This is his ninth year as a teacher, all at Taft High.
Renaissance is a national program promoting academics.
Renaissance students selected the teacher of the year from among nominees made by the student body. The student scholar of the year was a senior who has achieved higher than a 4.0 grade point average during his high school career by taking honors and Advanced Placement classes.
The rally also honored the Top Cats in all four grades who earned higher than a 4.0 GPA. Honor roll students and other students and staff members with positive attitudes were also acknowledged with T-shirts they wore to the rally.
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