Teachers and administrators from Hilliard's 22 school buildings gathered Aug. 19 in the auditorium of Davidson High School for convocation, at which three Hilliard graduates recalled how teachers influenced their lives.
They also heard from new Superintendent John Marschhausen, who outlined his vision for the district's future and how he and the administration will help teachers achieve it.
District officials invited the three graduates to the convocation, which was held one day before the start of the 2013-14 school year.
Cory Michael Smith, a 2005 graduate of Darby High School, was the last of three students to speak.
An actor, Smith used humor in his opening remarks, but then became serious when lamenting that courses his chosen mentor, Gail Griffith, had taught had been eliminated as part of the district's budget reductions.
Smith, a resident of New York City, graduated from Otterbein College in 2009 and recently made his Broadway debut in an adaptation of Breakfast at Tiffany's.
"I am a better son, brother, and actor ... and am forever grateful for the path Gail Griffith set me on," said Smith, who at the conclusion of the convocation performed on piano and sang Gravity by Sara Bareilles.
Katelyn Weiant Carney, a 2004 graduate of Davidson High School and a graduate of Miami University, recognized her former teacher, Jennie Hartman-Cross.
Carney is a teacher and assistant theater director at Darby High School.
"I think education was a destiny for me long before it was a passion," said Carney, who comes from a family of Hilliard teachers.
"Everything had a purpose," said Carney, who along with her younger sister, Leslie, also an educator, credited Cross with teaching her how to teach others.
Ryan Spurlock, a 2003 graduate of Davidson High School and a graduate of Arizona State University, recognized his elementary school teacher, Tammy Stephanic.
Spurlock worked in Hong Kong and other Far East countries prior to accepting a job at KPMG, a financial and accounting firm in San Francisco.
"She (Stephanic) challenged us," said Spurlock, adding that he responded to a challenge to learn multiplication tables without the use of a pencil.
"But I needed a little help with the arts and crafts," said Spurlock, recounting her assistance in making a Christmas tree ornament.
Marschhausen also provided some levity in advance of his remarks on education.
First, he alluded to his love for the Ohio State University Buckeyes and the Cincinnati Reds, then showed a Cincinnati Bengals' helmet and spoke of former superintendent Dale McVey's love of the Bengals.
"I bought into the Buckeyes and the Reds, but I just can't buy into the Bengals," said Marschhausen, just before showing a picture of a New York Jets helmet to highlight his favorite NFL team.
He also recounted his daughter Emily's words, "He's not a real doctor," when he was once introduced to her class as "Dr. Marschhausen."
Most of his remarks, though, focused on the importance of education.
"Education is the silver bullet," Marschhausen said. "It's our national security for the future and (remedies) almost every ailment."
Marschhausen appealed to teachers to stay focused on finding better ways every day to reach children, while he focuses on state mandates and report cards, and the effects of legislators and the media on education.
"I'm here to help remove barriers," he said.
Marschhausen outlined three goals, encouraging teachers to empower, embrace and inspire.
"It's not about getting from A to B, it's about getting our children to a new place ... and as we inspire them, they will inspire us," Marschhausen said.