The Gahanna-Jefferson Education Foundation will honor its founder, Dale Foor, as well as 35-year educator Carole Bickel and longtime volunteer Jody Cox with Cornerstone Awards.
The public is invited to celebrate with the honorees at 10 a.m. Friday, May 12, in the auditorium of Gahanna Lincoln High School, 140 S. Hamilton Road.
The Cornerstone Award is an annual recognition of the builders of excellence across Gahanna-Jefferson Public Schools. Recipients must have been associated with the district for a minimum of 10 years as an employee or in another official support role.
Sharon Tomko, district community relations and outreach coordinator, said the foundation is excited to be honoring Foor for his 42 years of service within the district.
"We are honoring Dale not only for his years of service, but also for his vision of creating the Gahanna-Jefferson Education Foundation in 2002," she said.
The foundation has funded more than $1.4 million in grants, Fund A Need initiatives, donor-designated programs and scholarships.
"From this year forward, the Cornerstone Awards will be named the Dale Foor Cornerstone Awards," Tomko said.
Foor's career in education spanned 42 years in Gahanna as a teacher and administrator.
"I actually student-taught in Gahanna in 1968 and began working here full time in 1970 until I retired in 2012," Foor said.
He taught history and government, coached football and track and served as an assistant principal, middle school principal, high school principal and director of pupil and community services.
"Every role had its own unique experiences," he said. "I liked my time in each. My last role, when I became involved in the Gahanna-Jefferson Education Foundation, was very fulfilling."
His memorable events include the installation of the veterans plaza.
"Each time I pass by, I think 'that's a pretty neat project,' " Foor said. "After the plaza was built, we took the kids involved to see the World War II memorial in Washington, D.C., as it was just completed. Bob Dole even met with our students in his office."
He said his tenure in Gahanna also allowed him to develop longstanding, generational personal relationships, and he has had the opportunity to educate the children of his former students.
"Creating opportunities for kids to be successful is important to me," Foor said. "The establishment of the Gahanna Jefferson Education Foundation ended up being the perfect vehicle for that purpose. The GJEF helps address the needs of students across the district."
Bickel said teaching high school was the highlight of her career.
"I didn't realize how much I loved it until I retired," she said.
Bickel was an educator for more than 35 years at both the secondary and collegiate level.
She spent 17 years at Gahanna Lincoln High School, sharing her love of mathematics with students of all grades.
"I taught absolutely everything having to do with high school math and was department chair for 14 years," Bickel said. "I love high school students and walking the halls of the building."
Foor hired Bickel as a math teacher at Gahanna Lincoln in 1991.
At the high school, Bickel saw a need for a math course for students who were not college-bound.
"We wanted to find a way to get seniors sitting in study hall into and interested in a math class, and we had to create that class from scratch," Bickel said. "It turned out to be a really popular math course, combining discrete mathematics, probability and statistics. It was unique due to its umbrella format full of different topics."
Foor said significant positive progress was made in the math department during Bickel's tenure, including the addition of Advanced Placement coursework.
"She was also a very caring teacher," said Jody Cox, a fellow Cornerstone Award inductee. "She personally cared about my son and his progress, and it truly touched me."
Prior to her time at Gahanna, Bickel taught part-time at Franklin University for a decade.
A Gahanna resident for more than 30 years, Cox has been a supporter of the district schools since 1995.
"I brought my son to kindergarten at High Point Elementary, and I haven't left since," Cox said. "At the time, I had my daughter on my hip. My third child was born in 2000, and I'll have spent nearly 25 years in the district when he graduates."
She began her volunteer career by attending elementary PTA meetings.
From there, she offered her help with the publishing center, family-fun events and her favorite -- reading night -- which has become an annual High Point tradition.
The event involves acting out stories with an emphasis on the current reading curriculum.
"I continued to stay involved as my kids moved to Middle School East and the high school," Cox said. "It takes a lot of time and a lot of work, but I love taking care of the teachers. It's never been about me."
Aside from her work for the schools and the Education Foundation, Cox also supported levy campaigns.
She led the "Mine +9" initiative, encouraging parents at each school to support the district for the good of the community.
"We moved to Gahanna because of the schools," Cox said. "All my close friendships have been built just by being in the district and working with people. The reason I continue to volunteer is because I want the schools to stay great. They can't do that all on their own."
Cindy Herndon, a retired administrator in the district, nominated Foor for recognition.
Luke Langhals, a Gahanna graduate who witnessed Cox's dedication to the students, nominated her while Bickel was nominated by Dona Montgomery, a former teaching colleague.