It would be easy to assume Janice Caldwell’s legacy as an educator with the Lindale ISD would be judged by the enormous successes of her speech and debate students over the years.
However, this would be missing the big picture.
A true educator in every sense of the word, Caldwell was honored this past Friday by the Lindale ISD Alumni Association with its Distinguished Service Award, which is given to a former faculty member or other individual whose outstanding service greatly contributed to the success of the LISD.
She molded and mentored students for more than 30 years – 24 of those in the LISD. All of her students, trophy winners or not, benefited from her dedication to bringing out the best in each of them.
“Just watching them learn how to critically examine issues and look at both sides of issues is what I enjoyed the most,’’ she said. “These kids, whether they continue speech and debate later are developing speaking skills, are learning to think for themselves and analyze different points of view. These are skills they will use as adults regardless of what path they choose.’’
Upon receiving her award at midfield before the LHS game this past Friday, it was clear she was touched and gratified for the honor.
“I’m humbled by all of this,’’ she said. “I don’t know if I deserve it, but it is very special.’’
Two of her students became world famous entertainers – Miranda Lambert from LHS and Eric Bishop, better known today as Jamie Foxx, at Terrell High School.
Lambert has often credited Caldwell with providing her with the impetus to be comfortable in front of crowds.
Caldwell earned a bachelor’s and master’s degree from Stephen F. Austin State University and was a part-time teacher at Ore City before moving on to New Diana High School.
Caldwell has been nationally recognized by the National Forensic League for her strength as a speech and debate teacher.
While at Lindale High School, her students won five golden gavel awards for being the top speaker in the state in University Interscholastic League tournaments. They won so many state championships and other awards in debate, that Caldwell has lost count.
Lindale ISD Superintendent Stan Surratt has always seen something unique in Caldwell.
“She’s very special,’’ he said. “She’s a wonderful, wonderful lady. Her touch with students who don’t win tournaments is just as phenomenal as it is with those who win. This translates into a great program and I’m certain she’s one of the most respected speech and debate teachers in the country.’’
All of her students have benefited, he said.
“What’s so impressive about her students is they are prepared to go to any (college or university) in the U.S.,’’ he said. “She has really impacted our students in a very positive way.’’
Also recognized by the Alumni Association was Dr. William “Bill” Kinzie, Lindale class of 1953, presented with this year’s Lindale ISD Distinguished Alumni Award.
Dr. Kinzie attended Lindale schools for 12 years and participated in many extracurricular activities at LISD, including football, basketball and track.
His family ties with the community began in 1941, when he moved from Kansas to Lindale. His wife, Mary Ann Yarborough, is also a graduate of Lindale High School and has family connections with Lindale that date to the 1900’s.
Dr. Kinzie attended Tyler Junior College, the University of Texas and Baylor Medical School, where he obtained his medical degree.
He was an intern at Jeff Davis Hospital in Houston, the U.S. Air Force at Payne Field and at the Brooks Air Force Base in San Antonio. He was involved in Family Practice in Ennis and was an associate of the Medical Arts Clinic in Corsicana.
Dr. Kinzie continues to present the “Kinzie Award,” to a teacher of Lindale I.S.D every year.
The award was established by his father, Dr. E.C. Kinzie, a past Distinguished Service Award recipient, making them the only father-son award recipients to date.
“We are so pleased to be able to recognize this extraordinary group of former Lindale students and teachers,” LISD Alumni Association President Mitzi Bjork said. “We received several nominations for many deserving people and the awards committee felt it was time to honor these two with the distinguished awards. They have most certainly earned the recognition.”