Friday, April 11, was just another ordinary day in Michael Featherstone's class at Bexley High School -- or at least as ordinary as things get in a class where the teacher is known for making history come alive through games, impersonations and lively discussions from his days abroad.
But last Friday, as he stepped out of the room for a moment, a small entourage slipped in, balloons in hand, waiting to congratulate him on being named the Bexley Education Foundation's 2014 Educator of the Year.
"Honestly, I just stepped out of the room to grab something for a minute," he said after being fooled by the morning's diversions. "I was so focused, I didn't even notice. It took a second, then I figured it out."
Inside the room were his three children, two of whom were tickled to get out of school for the morning's surprise, along with his wife, Amy, Bexley Education Foundation representatives, Principal Harley Williams, current students, friends and colleagues.
"Mr. Featherstone, this year, three of your former students, despite having graduated and left for college, were determined to see that you receive this prestigious award for the stellar work that you do to guide and prepare your students for the future," said Marty Ross-Dolen, chairwoman of the foundation's Educator of the Year Selection Committee, as she presented the award.
"They, along with one of their parents, and your own colleague, Dr. Scott King-Owen, wrote beautiful letters of nomination, informing the committee of your extraordinary teaching style, your passion for your areas of expertise, your devotion to the school community as the faculty adviser for Student Council, and your selfless leadership as chair of the social studies department.
"They describe the creativity and energy that you bring to your classroom every day, your open-door policy and eagerness to watch your students and colleagues succeed, and the importance that you place on fairness and moral behavior, all with the purpose of developing global citizens who will make the world a better place," she said.
Featherstone said he was honored to receive the award.
"It really means a lot to me. I couldn't imagine teaching anywhere else. I count myself as lucky," he said.
Featherstone has taught AP Government and AP European History at Bexley High School for the past nine years.
He is passionate in everything he does, according to his students, including former pupils Camille Pipino, Nan Boyle and Louisa Wruck.
"While the subject of history could be seen as dry and stagnant," they wrote in their letter of nomination, "Mr. Featherstone's passion and enthusiasm for social studies brings history to life.
"One day, you may find him rapping the floor with his 'freedom stick,' while another day, you may find the classroom lights dim as he rises from the tomb, impersonating Napoleon.
"Mr. Featherstone is creative in finding ways to connect to students in a modern-day context; his energy and dynamic personality ensure that class will never be dull," the nomination stated.
Featherstone said he developed his passion for history while growing up abroad in Trinidad, Paraguay, Austria, Bolivia and Germany. His parents were diplomats, giving him the opportunity to see the world -- and history -- up close and firsthand.
The Bexley Educator of the Year Award is presented annually to a Bexley educator whose leadership, dedication, extraordinary achievements and commitment to the classroom and the community have made a difference in children's lives.
Sponsored annually by the Bexley Education Foundation, the award is funded by the Glick Family Endowment for the BEF, housed at the Columbus Jewish Foundation. Featherstone was presented with a crystal apple commemorating the honor.
On Wednesday, April 23, he will be recognized publicly and will be presented with a $1,000 cash award at the Bexley Education Appreciation Banquet at Capital University.