Tickets for April 24 Wall of Distinction Banquet Now on Sale
Tickets are now available for the annual Wall of Distinction Banquet on April 24, where four distinguished community members will be honored. This year, the Rogers Public Education Foundation will be paying tribute to former Rogers school board member and U.S. Senator John Boozman and three distinguished alumni – philanthropist Jan Buck, state and local leader Mary Lynn Reese, and retired teacher Bob Ross.
Foundation Selects Four Honorees for Wall of Distinction
The Rogers Public Education Foundation has selected four outstanding honorees to be added to its Wall of Distinction this spring. This special honor will go to former Rogers school board member and U.S. Senator John Boozman and three distinguished alumni – philanthropist Jan Buck, state and local leader Mary Lynn Reese, and retired teacher Bob Ross.
The community is invited to help honor these notable individuals at a gala fundraiser April 24 at the John Q. Hammons Center. Proceeds from the event will help the foundation continue its mission to promote and enhance the quality of education in the community by raising funds and distributing grants to teachers for additional materials or special classroom needs.
The names and special accomplishments of each honoree will be added to the Wall of Distinction located at the entrance to the auditoriums at Rogers High School and Rogers Heritage High School.
“Rogers has a history of people giving back to their schools and to their community,” said Keith Noble, the president of the Rogers Public Education Foundation Board. “The Wall of Distinction gala is a moment where we can pause and honor graduates and community leaders who have made their hometown proud.”
A dedicated public servant, Boozman served on the Rogers School Board for two terms helping the district through a time of rapid growth. In 2002, he won a special election to the United States House of Representatives where he served until his election to the United States Senate in 2010.
Born in Shreveport, Louisiana, Boozman grew up in Fort Smith, graduating from Northside High School. He attended the University of Arkansas, where he played football for the Arkansas Razorbacks, and graduated from the Southern College of Optometry. He co-founded Boozman-Hof Eye Clinic in Rogers in 1977. During his medical career, he established the low vision program at the Arkansas School for the Blind in Little Rock and worked as a volunteer optometrist at an area clinic serving low-income families.
Boozman is married to the former Cathy Marley, and they currently reside in Rogers. The couple has three daughters and one granddaughter.
Buck, a native of Rogers, was born to Darrow and Mary Ruth Pate Garner in the brand new Rogers Memorial Hospital and began her school career at Hawkins Kindergarten. She also attended Southside Elementary, Rogers Junior High and graduated in the Class of 1970 from Rogers High School. After receiving a BS in Elementary Education from William Woods University, she chose to return home to Rogers and began a teaching career in the same classroom in which she attended first grade.
Upon the birth of her first child, Jan chose to continue service to education through volunteer work, primarily through PTA and by serving on various school board committees. During those years, among other school projects, she was appointed volunteer coordinator for the inaugural year of the REACH gifted and talented program, chaired the Pupil Distribution Committee which designed a plan to limit elementary classroom sizes, and through City Council PTA she chaired a committee which led to the passage of the city sidewalk ordinance. She served on the boards of the Sunshine School, Jack and Jill Preschool and the Rogers Community Daycare Center. Additionally, she has been active in First Christian Church, Rogers Panhellenic Association and Chi Omega Alumnae.
In 2001, the Buck family created the Buck Foundation and Jan Buck serves as its executive director. The primary endeavor of the foundation is to help aid Rogers students in their pursuit of a college degree.
Buck and her husband, Rick, have two children who both are Rogers High School graduates and who live in Northwest Arkansas. They also have two granddaughters.
Mary Lynn Harris Reese is a native of Rogers and attended Rogers Public Schools. In 1961, she was a member of the first graduating class from the “new” high school on South 5th Street, where Rogers Heritage High School is now located. She earned a BA degree in mathematics from Hendrix College, and an MBA from the University of Arkansas.
Reese was a member of the local League of Women Voters for several years, and served as its state president in the late 1970s. She later was elected to the Rogers School Board and served for five years, 1984-1989. She also served on the Hendrix College Board of Trustees from 1978 to 1990.
In 1991 Arkansas created an Arkansas Ethics Commission and Reese was appointed to the first board of that commission. She served as its chairman in 1993. She was also appointed to the Northwest Arkansas Radiation Therapy Institute board in 1991 and served through 1996. Reese joined the Walton Arts Center board in 1995, serving as chairman from 2000 to 2003.
In 1997, Reese was chairman of the Leadership Rogers Steering Committee and served as chairman of the curriculum committee for the first class of Leadership Rogers.
In the 1990s, Reese was also asked by the Rogers School Board to form a foundation for the Rogers Public Schools. She asked Bob Crafton, Jo Soderquist, Jerry Vest, and Rob Brothers to help with that project. She served on the Rogers Public Education Foundation board until 2003.
Reese has two children, both graduates of Rogers Public Schools, and four grandchildren, all students in the Rogers Public Schools. She is a member of First United Methodist Church in Rogers.
A graduate of the Rogers High School Class of 1960, Ross returned to his alma mater as a biology teacher and for 34 years touched the lives of countless students. He was a beloved and sought-after teacher, and was selected as Teacher of the Year three times during his career.
Ross was known not only for his teaching in the classroom but sharing his outlook with students. Ross’s teaching day didn’t always end at the final bell. He shared his passion for field science with his students and many benefitted from counting white-tailed deer at Pea Ridge Military Park, or prowling for barred owls in the dark woods, or spending the night at the Ozark Underground Laboratory at Protem, Missouri. His field trips were immensely popular, and students clamored to get in. Years after they graduated, his former students remember Mr. Ross and talk about their experiences.
Ross also donated many hours to the Ozark Natural Science Center, where he taught field classes for summer camp students. Ross often led student and school groups over the course of his career. He served as chair of the Science Department, junior class sponsor, National Honor Society sponsor and as a member of the search committee that selected Frank Tillery (a Wall of Distinction honoree in 2012) as superintendent of the Rogers schools. He also helped found the local AEA affiliate, the Education Association of Rogers (EAR). Ross retired in 2005. He and his wife Cathy reside in Rogers.
Each year, the foundation seeks nominations for other former students, faculty and school supporters to add to the wall for their outstanding achievements in areas such as education, military or public service, the arts and community involvement.
“This spring we will recognize the third group of honorees and we know there are many more distinguished graduates and school supporters who are deserving,” Noble said. “We always welcome the community to nominate candidates for next year.”For more information, please contact Noble at email@example.com or at 479-636-7633.
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