Bills nose tackle Torell Troup visited a special teacher that goes above and beyond the lessons in the classroom, and her name is Bethany Maclam of Royalton-Hartland Middle School in Middleport, NY.
Professional, dedicated, generous and compassionate are just some of the attributes that Maclam consistently displays. She even shaved her head to support a former student that was going through cancer treatment. Her passion for teaching and caring are what makes her the 2010 winner of the Touchdown for Teachers program.
"After talking to Bethany for just a short period of time, it became very evident why she was the winner of the contest," said Troup. "She is so caring and genuine that I was honored to be here today."
The Buffalo Bills and M&T Bank developed the Touchdown for Teachers program in 2009 to recognize teachers for their outstanding service to their schools and communities. After nearly 100 nominations and narrowing it down to five finalists, Maclam was named winner of the 2010 award.
"I am thankful for the opportunity to partake in such a rewarding profession and would like to dedicate this recognition on behalf of all WNY teachers," said Maclam. "These men and women devote their lives to create a future that many students never dreamed possible; and as a result, thousands of students are destined for success. For several years, 'Make it a great day or not; the choice is yours' has been the mantra used to start each school day. Thank you to Royal-Hartland Middle School principal Mr. John Fisgus, the Buffalo Bills and M&T Bank for recognizing the work of WNY teachers and promoting the great days to come!"
In addition to already being recognized on the field during the Bills vs. Steelers home game, Maclam's class was visited by Troup on December 21, 2010. Troup interacted with her class and played a "Family Feud" game with the students as part of the grand prize.
"I think everyone was surprised when they found out I could bench over 400 pounds," said Troup. "A lot of the kids guessed I could only do 300 pounds. If that was really the case, my coach would not be happy! I think everyone really enjoyed getting to know some little facts about me, not just as a football player on the field, but as a person - which was cool."
"I so appreciate Torell for coming out and spending his afternoon inspiring our young adults with his kind words and his actions," said Fisgus.
Honorees were selected based on their amount of involvement and degree of positive impact in the school or community, and their demonstrated commitment to education.
"Not only do I salute our 6th grade teacher, Bethany Maclam, but all teachers who rise beyond the call of duty to provide our youth with the best possible education they can receive," said Fisgus.
In addition to Maclam, the other 2010 Touchdown for Teachers finalists were Mr. Pat Coyne – Greece Olympia School (Greece, NY), Ms. Jamie Casullo – Community Charter School (Buffalo, NY), Ms. Jamie Lee Grant – New York State School for the Blind (Batavia, NY) and Mr. Chris Zemrac – Hamburg High School (Hamburg, NY).
"We developed the Touchdown for Teachers program with M&T Bank last year to recognize the outstanding teachers in our region," said Bruce Popko, Bills senior vice president of business development. "This positive program provides our community with a fun way to honor those special educators that make us proud and confident to send our kids to school in Western New York."
"So many teachers go the extra mile to help the students of our community and the Touchdown for Teachers partnership with the Bills is a way to recognize some of those outstanding teachers," said Mark J. Czarnecki, M&T Bank president. "Education plays such a key role in the future of our economy and quality of life in Western New York, and we appreciate the teachers who work hard every day to prepare their students for the future."
Unfortunately, shortly after the visit by Troup, Maclam's former student Meghan Redenbach passed away from her battle with cancer. Maclam had been spending time with Meghan, visiting her, teaching her during tough times throughout her cancer treatment, and she had even shaved her head of hair in support of the courageous teenager. Meghan was 15 years old.
"The story of her former student is heartbreaking," said Troup. "No kid ever deserves to get sick, and when it's cancer it makes you really think how fortunate you are for just having good health. My thoughts and prayers are definitely with the family, especially during the holidays."