Distinguished Alumni Event

Each fall, the TEF recognizes Distinguished Alumni with an award presented at an event featuring the distinguished guests. To date, nearly $800,000 has been raised to fund student scholarships and innovative teaching grants.
We invite you to purchase tickets to attend the event, sponsor a table, or make a donation for this meaningful event.

Upcoming Award Dinner

Date: Wednesday, October 9, 2024
Location: Mayborn Convention Center
Social: 6:00 PM
Dinner & Program: 7:00 PM
Dress: Business casual

The Temple Education Foundation is proud to announce two honorees for 2024:

Kirby Johnson

Kirby Johnson graduated from Temple High school in 1972. After high school, he attended Texas Tech University. He married Kim Messerschmitt in 1979 and moved back to Temple in 1980 where they built a life and family. They have four children: Tyler, Tara, Tanner, and Taylor and eleven grandchildren. In 1982, Kirby was hired as the head basketball coach for Temple High School after serving as the Assistant Coach for two seasons. He lead the 1985 team to a 30-5 record, making them the first TISD team to win 30 games in a season. He was also given the unique opportunity to teach with his mother, Nelwyn Johnson, and his aunt, Betty Johnston. In 1987, he was hired as the Head Coach at Temple Junior College. He served as a coach and teacher there for 33 years, leading the men’s basketball team through record breaking seasons. He has served as a Deacon at Temple Bible Church, he is a member of the Temple Parks & Recreation Department Hall of Fame and a member of the Texas Tech Alumni Association Bell County Board of Directors.

Willie Robertson

Willie E. Robertson graduated from Dunbar High School in 1965. He married Lucille Crump in 1969 and has one daughter, Gay Dawn Justice and one grandson, William Justice. He attended Temple Jr. College and Paul Quinn College, graduating with a B.A. in Biology and Sociology. After college, Willie worked in the TISD Maintenance Dept. from 1971 – 1974 and then went to work as a Medical Research Technologist at Scott & White Hospital from 1974 – 1999. He also served as a Pastor during these years at Goodwill Baptist Church in Milano, Magnolia Baptist Church in Belton, and starting in 1989, Macedonia Baptist Church in Temple, where he still serves as pastor. His list of civic service is impressive and includes being elected to the TISD School Board District 2 from 1979 – 1988 and currently serving as a Trustee Board Member at UMHB. In Willie’s own words, “As a native of this city, I have desired to work toward developing an inclusive and diverse community that acknowledges and respects all of its citizens. I’m ever grateful that our Heavenly Father has given me the privilege of serving humanity and spreading the love and hope of our Lord Christ Jesus.”

Past Honorees
Dr. Andrejs E. Avots-Avotins, MD, PhD (Class of 1972)

Dr. Andrejs E. Avots-Avotins is currently serving as The Elizabeth & Drayton McLane, Jr Chair of Health & Wellness, and the Vice President of Medical Affairs and Community Engagement for Baylor Scott & White Health Central Texas Division. He received his PhD in microbiology and his MD degree from the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston. He is a board-certified Internist and Gastroenterologist in the Department of Medicine and is an Associate Professor of Medicine at Texas A&M Health Science Center College of Medicine. Dr. Avots-Avotins is married to Gail, they have three grown children, Kristin, Lauren, and Erik, and they have four grandsons. He has served as member of many boards and medical associations through the years and has always made giving back to the Central Texas community a priority. We are excited to celebrate not only the positive impact that he has made on the local medical community but also in our entire community.

Susan Pitts Luck (Class of 1970)

Susan Luck completed a BA in Sociology from the University of Texas Permian Basin. Susan started her professional career as a social worker at Methodist Children’s Home in Waco. While in Waco, Susan achieved her MS in Education with an emphasis in Counseling at Baylor University, and she met her husband George Luck. Her professional journey continued at Temple ISD where she worked in many different positions for two decades. She finished her career as a psychotherapist at McLane’s Children’s outpatient clinic. Susan and George’s have two children, Brent and Rachel, and six “grand darlings,” Susan has impacted the community through both her professional career and her personal involvement in boards and projects that better the Temple community.

Dr. Harry B. Macey, Jr. (Class of 1951)

Dr. Macey planted strong roots in Temple that continue to grow as his family does with many members living in the Temple-Belton area. In 1969, Dr. Macey joined the staff of Scott and White Clinic in Temple. Later he and two other doctors started the Women’s Clinic in Temple. He was an OB/GYN doctor and did surgery at King’s Daughters Hospital. Dr. Macey delivered numerous babies for over 30 years, until retiring in 2000. He has contributed his gifts, time and service to the Temple community. We are grateful for his love of Temple and his commitment to our community.

“Little Joe” Hernandez” (Honorary Class of 1960)

Jose “Little Joe” Maria De Leon Hernandez was born in Temple, TX. Due to life circumstances of being a child of migrant workers, he was unable to graduate from high school. The Temple Education Foundation is thrilled to honor Little Joe, also known as the “King of the Brown Sound,” with an honorary THS diploma and as Distinguished Alumni 2022. Winner of five GRAMMY awards and over sixty years as a musician, TEF is recognizing Little Joe for his trailblazing in the Latino community, the breaking down of cultural & music barriers, and continued commitment to his heritage and roots in Temple, TX.

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Mr. Earl Nottingham (Class of 1972)

Earl Nottingham is celebrating his 25th year as a photographer with Texas Parks & Wildlife magazine. He is considered one of Texas’ preeminent photographers. Mr. Nottingham attended the Art Institute of Atlanta and earned a bachelor’s in photography from East Texas State University. After owning a successful freelance business for several years, he took over as chief photographer for the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department in 1996, where he currently serves. As chief photographer, Mr. Nottingham travels to every corner of the state to document its landscape, people and historical treasures.

Ms. Amanda Coots (Class of 2001)

When astronauts say “Houston, we have a problem,” it is Amanda Coots that answers the call! In her position with NASA, Amanda serves as a flight controller and instructor for the International Space Station (ISS). Her team plans, trains, and assists flying operations for the ISS, Orion, manned commercial vehicles and Lunar Gateway. After graduating as the top female student at THS in 2001, Amanda went on to earn both a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in Computer Engineering from Texas A&M University.

Ms. Allison Dickson

Temple High School class of 1998, was diagnosed with Werdnig-Hoffman Muscular Dystrophy when she was 15 months old, but Allison is not one to let physical limitations hold her back. Allison has been an active community volunteer and philanthropist. She created and fully endowed through community fundraising three scholarships including the Allison Dickson Temple Proud Scholarship, which benefits TISD graduating seniors attending Temple College. Affectionately nicknamed “Temple’s Sweetheart,” Allison inspires others daily through her positivity, faith, and determination.

Mr. Carl Cornelius “C.​C.​” Sampson

Mr. Carl was a highly influential educator of the black community in Temple during the 1920’s & 1930’s. Mr. Sampson became the principal of the Temple Negro School in 1924. Two hallmarks of his time in Temple were the renaming of the high school to Dunbar High School and the creation of a football team. Over 95 years later, Mr. Sampson’s legacy continues to improve educational experiences for those in our community. A man of high character, Mr. Sampson encouraged everyone he mentored to live by their “deeds, not words.”

Mr. Brian Skinner

a 1994 Temple High School graduate, was part of the Wildcat powerhouse basketball team in the early 1990’s that went to the Class 5A regionals two years and to the semifinals once. Brian then went on to play for the Baylor Bears where he still holds the record for the number of blocked shots and earned all-conference recognition three times. Skinner was a first-round pick of the Los Angeles Clippers in the 1998 NBA draft and played in the NBA for 13 years. Today, Brian is passionate about giving back to his community through the game of basketball.

Mr. Thomas Baird

In 2019, TEF recognized Thomas Baird. Mr. Baird is a community leader, businessman, and Temple High School Class of 1971.

Dr. Sonjanette Crossley

A 2019 honoree, Dr. Sonjanette Crossley was known for her motto “changing a generation, one person at a time”. Dr. Crossley graduated from Meridith-Dunbar High School in 1968.

Mrs. Dorothy Powell

A 2019 honoree, Mrs. Dororthy Powell served TISD as a teacher and principal from 1959-1995. She is Class of 1949 from Dunbar High School.

Mr. Wendell Williams

In 2019, TEF recognized Wendell Williams. Wendell has a long history of civic and community service in Temple. Mr. Williams is a 1966 graduate of Temple High School.


Dr. Robin Battershell

Dr. Robin Battershell was recognized as a Distinguished Alumni in 2018. Dr. Robin Battershell led TISD as superintendent for ten years (2008-2018). She set the District on a path that changed the look and feel of Temple ISD, the staff, students, families and community as she helped everyone see what is possible when you invest in children. Dr. Battershell exemplifies what it means to lead by example and was named the 2016 Region 12 Superintendent of the Year and nominee for the Texas Superintendent of the Year by the Texas Association of School Boards.


Mr. Steve Wright

In 2018, TEF recognized Steve Wright as a Distinguished Alumni. Steve served the community and district as a member of the TISD Board of Trustees for more than a decade. Under his tenure as board president, the district experienced stability in leadership, a rallying of community support and state-wide recognition. Steve is an example to all of what it means to serve a cause greater than yourself and work for our future generations.

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Coach McQueen

The 2017 Distinguished Alumni Award recognized and honored longtime Temple Wildcat football coach and athletic director Bob McQueen. Coach McQueen is a great role model and example to all TISD students and the community.

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Keifer Marshall

The 2016 Distinguished Alumni was Veteran Keifer Marshall, survivor at the famous Battle of Iwo Jima, Fox Company, 2nd Battalion, 9th Marines and Temple graduate.

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Joe Green

In 2015, TEF recognized Joe Green, #75 of the Pittsburgh Steelers in the 1970’s and former Dunbar High School student and Temple graduate.

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Eric Paslay

The 2014 Distinguished Alumni was Eric Paslay, country western singer and former Temple High School graduate.

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