COLUMBIA — Vicki Russell offered Cardinals' score updates to attendees in exchange for enthusiastic applause for each of the honorees inducted into Columbia Public Schools Foundation's Hall of Leaders.
The Columbia Public Schools Foundation honored 11 people at the 2012 Hall of Leaders: A Night of Stars Gala Thursday night at Missouri Theatre Center for the Arts. Those honored included alumni, retired educators and volunteers of the Columbia Public Schools system.
NASCAR driver Carl Edwards was one of five Columbia Public Schools alumni honored during the ceremony. Edwards was not in attendance, but accepted his award via a prerecorded video.
Edwards thanked the Columbia Public Schools system for holding him to high expectations throughout his schooling in the district. At one point, Edwards was a substitute teacher for Columbia Public Schools and said during that experience, he found true appreciation for the teachers in his life.
Kurt Ford, also a Rock Bridge High School graduate, accepted alumni honors at the event. Ford, who is currently the senior vice president of productions for NBC Universal, oversees the daily production operations of the studio's 48 television shows.
Missouri House representative nominee John Wright received alumni honors at the event. Wright attended Russell Elementary School, Jeff Junior High School and is a graduate of Hickman High School.
Wright is the founder of Rollins Reading, a non-profit organization that promotes early childhood literacy throughout central Missouri in partnership with Columbia Public Schools.
Another alumni honoree, Nischelle Turner, is the West Coast entertainment correspondent for CNN and HLN's "Showbiz Tonight." Both a Rock Bridge High School and MU graduate, Turner has held broadcast positions in Indiana, New Orleans and Los Angeles.
Turner noted the necessity of instilling the importance of education at a young age and thanked her mother for pushing her to stay dedicated to school in her acceptance speech.
Susan Hogan Pasternack was the fifth alumni honoree Thursday night. Pasternack graduated from Hickman High School and later received a bachelor of science in Electrical Engineering from MU.
Pasternack worked for Motorola/General Dynamics Corp. for 32 years and has been a leader in the soldier system business area for 17 years. Her work in the engineering field has helped deploy soldier systems in Iraq and Afghanistan which have helped save both military and civilian lives.
The foundation also honored three retired educators and three outstanding volunteers who have contributed to the district.
Ron and Lyria Bartlett, who received volunteer recognition, were involved in the completion of many sports complexes at Rock Bridge High School. Mary Flatt, who is serving her second term as the president of Blue Ridge Elementary School's PTA and is the president of Columbia Council of PTA, was also recognized as an outstanding volunteer.
Mary Waters, the third volunteer honoree, was recognized for her role in the partnership between Douglass High School and Columbia Daily Tribune.
Sharon Bailey, Barbara Fairman and James Wells were all honored as outstanding retired educators. All have been a part of Columbia Public Schools for decades and each thanked the district for creating an enjoyable working environment.
Supervising editor is Elizabeth Brixey.