Hannah Bratcher has been named STAR Student for the 2019-2020 school year by the Mississippi Economic Council (MEC) M. B. Swayze Foundation, sponsor of the Student Teacher Achievement Recognition (STAR) program. This year will mark the 55th Anniversary of the STAR program. Established by the Mississippi Economic Council in 1965, the purpose of the STAR program is to recognize outstanding students & teachers in Mississippi.
Hannah will be acknowledged among the over 330 STAR Students in Mississippi for their academic achievements. STAR Students are selected on the basis of academic excellence. Both American College Test scores and scholastic averages are compared to determine the school’s STAR Student. Hannah scored a 32 on her ACT and has earned a 4.7 GPA. The STAR program encourages and promotes academic achievement among Mississippi’s high school seniors. “Hannah is a bright young lady with a strong mind and deep faith and displays willingness to accept and conquer every challenge that lies in front of her,” said High School Principal Jim DeLaughter. “She has demonstrated excellence in the classroom and always does it with a smile on her face. Hannah does not allow the moment to be too big for her. Her level-headed and methodical approach will benefit her greatly as she prepares for the jump to college. She is intrinsically motivated and strives to be the best in all she does - not only that, but she also is kind and considerate to all of her classmates and underclassmen at Hartfield.”
Hannah’s reflections upon this honor are truly emblematic of her character. She shared, “Being a STAR student means more to me than I could ever put into words. More than it just being an honor to me, I think it honors every individual who has invested in me and helped me become the person that I am today. [...] I'm so thankful to the Hartfield Academy family for blessing me so much over the past eight years, and I will continue to represent them well in all aspects of my life.” Hannah also makes a point to praise what God has done in her life, saying, “I do everything to honor the Lord and honor those people [who have invested in my life]. The Lord has continuously been faithful to me and given me so many different and unique opportunities; I want to live my life doing the best I can to bring the most glory to Him. I also have a couple of very special Christian women in my life that I aspire to be like, and I'm motivated to make them proud every single day.”
In addition to this honor, each STAR Student is asked to designate a STAR Teacher, the teacher who has made the greatest contribution to the student’s scholastic achievement. Tara Hall was chosen as this year’s STAR Teacher. An English teacher for sixteen years, Mrs. Hall came to Hartfield to serve as English Department Chair where she teaches dual credit Composition I and Composition II as well as dual credit Literature I and Literature II. She has recently become also Hartfield's Curriculum Director, a position she describes as “the best of both worlds - I get to teach my students and help fellow teachers.” While teaching is certainly Mrs. Hall’s chosen career passion, she considers her family as her “life” - she is a mother to Josh (14), Ella (12) and Toby (10), and spends much of her free time doing various family activities. Mrs. Hall is also in the final weeks of her graduate school program, where she will soon graduate with an EdS degree. “When I started thinking about who I would choose for STAR teacher, I knew very quickly that I wanted to choose Mrs. Hall,” said Hannah Bratcher, when asked about her STAR teacher designation. “I've had the privilege of being in her class for the last three years, and she has pushed my writing, as well as myself in general, to be the absolute best I can be. She has a strange talent where she somehow knows exactly what you're capable of and will not allow you to do less than that.” Principal Jim DeLaughter added, “Tara masterfully blends her passions for Christ, English, curriculum & students together into drive to make our school better every day in every way. She is a valuable leader and voice in our Upper School that champions our teachers and students’ best interests.”
“Being STAR Teacher is such a blessing and an honor,” says Tara Hall. “This is my second opportunity to be chosen as STAR Teacher. In both situations, my STAR Student has had a background in the sciences. So, typically, these students do not just ‘love’ literature. Being chosen as Star Teacher for these students means even more because I feel like I have successfully opened a world of words and images to them that they would not have typically focused on.”
“Hannah is awesome!” says Mrs. Hall of her fellow STAR honoree. “She is very smart but humble. She is a determined and dependable student. Hannah reminds me of the passage Paul describes in 2 Timothy 4:7 - Hannah will finish her races. She will fight the good fight and keep the faith. She’s not going to be loud or flashy, but she is loyal and faithful.”
Mrs. Hall holds to a beautiful truth about teaching: “As a teacher, the goal is to build relationships with your students. [...] When you inspire a student to learn and to love and to understand, it is such a huge reward. Teachers do not receive recognition in big, showy ways. Our rewards come when the “lightbulb” comes on for our kids, or when our kids get excited about something or when they hang out just to talk, but you know that they are really there because they know you care about them. It’s the little things. So, really, we are all STAR Teachers. I just get to enjoy this particular special recognition this year because of Hannah’s accomplishments.”
This year, over 660 STAR Students and STAR Teachers will receive this prestigious recognition from MEC’s M.B. Swayze Foundation.
Congratulations, Hannah and Mrs. Hall!