Congratulations Mr. Atkins

Steven Atkins has taught at Andrews Academy since 1993. His passion for science combined with encouragement of scholastic achievement has prepared hundreds of students for college. During the Andrews Academy Commencement service on May 29, Atkins was given the Alumni Award for Excellence in Education in recognition of his service.

The Alumni Awards Foundation has promoted excellence in Adventist education since 1996. Every year, they acknowledge ten teachers from the North American Division who show an exemplary commitment to outstanding education.

And Atkins’ commitment is extraordinary. In addition to teaching earth science and biology, he is also licensed to teach chemistry and algebra. During his time at Andrews Academy, he instituted the senior portfolio as a requirement for graduation. College preparedness begins early in Atkins’ classes: as a part of his earth science class, freshmen begin assembling their portfolios. In this subtle way, Atkins encourages each student to begin thinking about college, encouraging higher education. He also shares his lab notes with teachers across the country and students throughout the years recall that he draws spiritual teachings from the day’s lesson. On top of all that, he sends out regular “AA Updates” to current students, alumni and parents.

Cleon White, the former principal of Andrews Academy, nominated Atkins for the award in early February. The Alumni Awards Foundation receives hundreds of nominations each year, which are then separated into tiers. Melissa Cechota, communications coordinator, noted Atkins’ nomination and statement of purpose stood out to her. “He represents what makes Adventist education successful.” Atkins’ emphasis on college preparedness also stood out: “He elevates the sciences in [Andrews] Academy to serious levels of academic achievement.”

“On a scale of one to ten where ten is the highest,” said Cleon White, “I’d give him an 11.” On behalf of the Alumni Awards Foundation, Andrews Academy Board Chair Brent Geraty presented Atkins with a medallion and $2,000 for his own use.

Upon presentation, he received a standing ovation. “It’s a joy to work at the Academy and to be able to tell people about God for my job is the greatest thing,” says Atkins.

Following the Alumni Awards presentation, Geraty announced the creation of a new award in honor of Cleon White: the Cleon White Servant Leadership Award, presented yearly to a senior who shows qualities of humble, dedicated service. The first Cleon White Servant Leadership Award will be presented at the 2012 Andrews Academy Commencement.

—Samantha Snively, student writer, IMC