Martindale Award Honors Berry Faculty and Staff

Release Date: May 22, 2018

A longtime kindergarten teacher and English professor have earned the Martindale Award, the highest faculty/staff award at Berry College. 

Now retired English Professor and Department Chairman Tom Dasher and Berry College Elementary and Middle School teacher Mary Niedrach were nominated by their peers. They each received $2,500. 

Berry College President Steve Briggs described Dasher as a “model of collegiality and professionalism, a thoughtful and fair-minded leader.” 

He noted that Dasher has proven an inspired – and inspiring – teacher who cares greatly for students in part by challenging them with rigorous standards of academic excellence. Dasher played a key role in recruiting and retaining new faculty who have since contributed greatly to a culture of academic excellence that continues to gain respect regionally and nationally. And in the aftermath of 9/11, he was instrumental in the establishment of Berry’s Interfaith Council, which helped to promote healing and understanding on campus. 

Briggs noted that Niedrach has probably introduced more students to Berry than anyone else. 

She has “advanced the Berry mission of head, heart and hand in a manner that epitomizes improvement, innovation and inspiration,” he said. Through her work at the Berry College Elementary and Middle School, with future teachers in the Charter School of Education and Human Sciences, she has been, in the words of Jackie McDowell, Dean of the Charter School Dean, “The most amazing kindergarten teacher on the planet.” 

The Martindale Awards of Distinction were endowed by alumna Susan Byrd Martindale and her husband, Larry, to recognize and reward members of the Berry community who promote continuous improvement, implement innovative approaches, and inspire others to extraordinary achievement. Also during the end-of-year awards, staff member Amos Montgomery was recognized for his long service. Montgomery started work at Berry supervising the evening janitorial crew in 1968. 

“His ever-constant good cheer drew students to him like a magnet.  Arriving at Berry just as the first African-American students graduated in 1969, Amos developed especially close relationships with students of color over many years,” Briggs said. 

In 2009 several of those former students joined together to create a scholarship to honor Montgomery for the influence he had on their lives and “pay it forward” into the future.  The Amos Montgomery Expendable Scholarship is awarded to a rising upperclassman of African American or Black African descent who is active the Berry Black Student Alliance and/or is involved with local organizations that support underserved minorities. In honor of Amos, Berry will now add to the current amount in the expendable fund to create a permanent, endowed scholarship that will be awarded as long as Berry is in existence, which may also be the time frame in which Mongomery intends to work at Berry! 

Berry officials also named Krannert Room 331, the “Amos Montgomery Office of Multicultural and International Programs.” 

“The name and activity within that space will commemorate how a caring and committed person can have a lasting influence – how they can improve the community and the culture where they live, work and serve,” Briggs said.