Lipscomb University alums win prestigious Nashville teaching awards

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Two Lipscomb University College of Liberal Arts & Sciences alums were recently named Teacher of the Year for their leadership, support and success in enhancing education in Nashville. 

MathAlum_SIDEEricOn May 2, Lipscomb alumnus Eric Gambill (’03) of Hume-Fogg Magnet High School was named Teacher of the Year at Metropolitan Nashville Public School’s 2017-18 Teacher of the Year ceremony, and on April 24, Lipscomb alumna Kathy (Short) Forsthoff (’14) of Glencliff High School was named the General Education Teacher of the Year at the 2017 Academies of Nashville Awards.

A native of Cincinnati, Ohio, Gambill won Metropolitan Nashville Public School’s Teacher of the Year Award for high school, and will continue on to the regional Teacher of the Year competition with the potential to advance to the National Teacher of Year in 2018.

Hosted by MNPS, the Teacher of the Year program honors more than 140 teachers each year. To select the district-wide winners, teachers were scored on characteristics of a well-rounded educator including relationships with students, leadership and overall academic performance of students.

“Winning teacher of the year was a genuine surprise and a great honor,” said Gambill. “The school-level award was voted on by the teachers at Hume-Fogg, and the district level award was given based on essays and interviews. I'm surrounded by a lot of very talented and dedicated teachers, so to be singled out from such a group was both rewarding and humbling.”  

After graduating from Lipscomb as a math education major, Gambill went on to teach three years at East Literature Magnet School in Nashville and has been at Hume-Fogg Academic High School for the past 10 years. He teaches AP calculus AB, AP calculus BC and multivariate calculus, and has coached the boys cross country team for the past nine seasons.  

Gambill says Lipscomb’s faculty provided him with several great examples to emulate as a teacher today.

“Every day in my classroom there are certain things that I say or do that are carbon copies of what I experienced during my time at Lipscomb,” said Gambill. “I had several great professors, but Carroll Wells, professor and chair of mathematics, tops the list. My wife and I were both math majors and had Dr. Wells for several of our classes. During that time we developed a deep respect and appreciation for him as a teacher and a person. When we were married we asked Dr. Wells to perform the ceremony and were extremely honored to have him share that moment with us.”

Gambill says that his passion to teach stemmed from his own love for learning as well as a desire to enter a field of service.

“Teachers have a lot of influence over the lives of young people, which means that we also have a great responsibility to ensure that our impact is a positive one,” said Gambill. “This opportunity and the challenges that come along with it keep me energized and excited to do the work that I do on a daily basis.”  

MathAlum_SIDEKathyOn April 24, Forsthoff was named Teacher of the Year Award for General and Global Education at the 2017 Academies of Nashville Awards, which were presented by the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce. The awards are designed to honor schools, teachers, students, administrators and stakeholders who exemplify excellence in preparing high school students for college and career readiness through applied learning in industry theme-based academies.

Forsthoff was one of 15 award winners, all of which were voted on by a panel of business and community leaders.

“Receiving this award was an honor because it says that I am exemplifying what it looks like to ‘teach through the lens of the academy,’” said Forsthoff. “I have put in a lot of work this past school year to give our students a business-enriched education, including starting a school bookstore, organizing a financial literacy night and hosting several goal-setting panel discussions. I was proud to see that my time and efforts were being recognized.”

A native of Indianapolis, Indiana, Forsthoff graduated from Lipscomb with a math education degree in 2014, and has been teaching algebra I and II and geometry at Glencliff High School since.

During her time at Lipscomb, Forsthoff says she appreciated how her former math professor Carroll Wells, connected math concepts to real-life situations, and she has integrated that into her teaching strategy as well. She also appreciated how Lipscomb helped build a strong foundation in her faith, and how she is able to love and care for her students better because of that foundation.

“Teaching is a ministry and a passion for me. I don't think I am ever more alive than when I am standing in front of a group of high schoolers trying to engage their minds and prick their sense of wonder,” said Forsthoff. “My students desperately need a champion, someone who will stand before them and say, ‘I love you. I care whether or not you do something with your life. I care whether or not you know that you are loved by the Father.’ There are some days when the emotions run high and I come home in tears. There are also days that I feel under-appreciated and mistreated, but those are the days I remember the sacrifice my Father made to know me.  I don't mind making a sacrifice so that my kids might get a glimpse of the Father in me and also come to know Him.” 

Wells says there is nothing more rewarding than to see his former students succeed in areas of passion.

"I am both proud and elated to witness the positive impacts that Eric and Kathy are having in this city and in the lives of their students," said Wells. "I knew when I had them as students at Lipscomb that they were each individuals that wanted to make a difference, and there couldn't be two people more deserving of these awards." 

To learn more about Lipscomb’s Department of Mathematics, which is housed in the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences, visit: www.lipscomb.edu/mathematics.