Educator honored with Raymond Van Houtte Teacher Award

Groton High School business teacher, Babs Carr (left), and vice president of Tompkins Financial Corporation, Debi Hoover (right), as Carr receives her award.
Groton High School business teacher, Babs Carr (left), and vice president of Tompkins Financial Corporation, Debi Hoover (right), as Carr receives her award.
Photo by Linda Competillo

Groton High School’s longtime business teacher, Babette (Babs) Carr, was present at the meeting of the Groton Board of Education on Monday, June 3 to accompany some of the students she works with as they made presentations to the board that evening.

While the student presentations were clearly planned on the agenda, there was one agenda item that Carr was completely unaware of until Debi Hoover, vice president, officer, and branch manager of Tompkins Financial Corporation, was introduced.

Unbeknownst to Carr but known by nearly everyone else in the board room that evening, Hoover was there to present Carr with the Raymond Van Houtte Teacher Award.

The Tompkins Trust Company, now Tompkins Financial, established the award in 1989 to honor the late Raymond Van Houtte, retired president of the Trust Company, creating a $25,000 endowment. The earnings are to be used to fund awards “recognizing educators who have shown exceptional ability, effort, and results in improving primary and secondary education in Tompkins County,” according to The Lansing Star in 2018.

Educators are nominated by individuals, principals, or district superintendents, and in the case of Carr, her GHS principal, Billie Downs, had submitted a nomination for her. Hoover, who commented how thrilled she was to be the one to present the award to Carr because of past connections with each other, read Downs’ nomination for the board and audience members as follows:

“Babs Carr is an invaluable faculty member of the Groton Jr-Sr High School. She is kind, caring, dedicated, hard-working and always puts kids first. She goes above and beyond in so many ways it is hard to sum it all up.

“As a department of one, Babs teaches five different business courses and has six classes. To engage students, not only does Babs arrange for guest speakers to come into the classroom to share their expertise with our students, but she also organizes site tours of local businesses, colleges seminars, and professional conferences for students to attend.

“As the community liaison for our newly developed STEAM programs, she is working hard to build partnerships with local businesses to create relevant and industry-aligned learning experiences for our students. Our STEAM students are communicating, networking, and learning from professionals. Our end goal is to have students participate in job shadows and internships, with the hopes that they will land other employment opportunities in the future.

“Babs has also helped us grow our Early College Degree program by mentoring students and assisting teachers in the TC3 college approval process. Groton Jr-Sr High School currently offers an impressive 27 concurrent enrollment (college-credit) courses accounting for 102 college credits. She has helped dozens of our students earn their associate degree before graduating high school.

“Over the years, she has been involved in numerous extra-curricular activities. As a senior class advisor for the past five years, her goal was to make sure every senior enjoyed their last year and left with amazing memories to treasure for a lifetime.

“She organized everything from spirit week competitions to senior trips to graduation. Babs has also spear-headed numerous charity events to raise money for local families in need. Last year, Babs reinstated the Interact Club and has organized many frequent service-learning opportunities for students to help make our school and community a better place.

“Babs does so much for our students, our school, and our community. She is an invaluable team member. She is always willing to do the extra work and pitch in to help someone in need. She is reliable, passionate, and professional. She gives her whole heart to our kids and is committed to the important work we do to make a positive impact in the lives of others.”

Carr was visibly touched, honored, and clearly surprised to receive this prestigious award. As far as she knew, she was there that evening as the Interact Club advisor, as two of the students involved in the club, Morgan Dittman and Drew Jackson, gave a synopsis of the club’s activity.

Interact is part of Rotary International, the world’s first service club organization. Interact clubs bring together young people ages 12 to 18 to develop leadership skills while discovering the power of “Service Above Self.”

The clubs are sponsored by individual Rotary clubs, which provide support and guidance, but they are self-governing and self-supporting. There is a Rotary in Groton, and its members are very supportive of local students.

Carr explained that the students decide what projects they want to do and what charities they want to give to in the community. Jackson informed the board of some of the activities the club had accomplished throughout this past year, such as giving Mark’s Pizzeria gift cards to families in need in the community, assisting with the Groton Trail clean-up, the Groton cemetery restoration, and much more.

All in all, it was an uplifting evening for all in attendance.
Groton on the Inside appears weekly. Submit news ideas to Linda Competillo, or 607-227-4922.


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