Regina Batson receives MLK Award Long-time teacher helped students learn to be good citizens

By Lynn R. Parks

Long-time teacher Regina Batson is the recipient of this year's Martin Luther King Jr. Community Recognition Award. She was honored Monday during the annual Martin Luther King Day of Celebration prayer breakfast, held at the Seaford Golf and Country Club. "Regina Batson was not just a physical education teacher," said Russell Knorr, superintendent of the Seaford School District, from which Batson retired in June. "She was a teacher of children. She taught them how to behave. She taught them how to act. And she taught them how to be good citizens. She is someone who is missed and was a very valued member of our school district." Knorr told the more than 200 people at the breakfast that he misses the gregarious Batson when he walks into Frederick Douglass Elementary School, where she taught. "No one yells at me anymore," he teased. "And I don't see any teacher sitting down with the children and eating lunch with them. Regina always ate her lunch with the children." Knorr described Batson as "just a big kid." "She never lost the childishness that is really important for a teacher," he added. Seaford High School English teacher Dara Laws, who received the community recognition award in 2007, asked members of the audience who had had Batson as a teacher to repeat the gym teacher's favorite phrase. In unison, dozens of people called out, "Sit down, turn around, or your recess is mine." And in true form, Batson, dressed in a purple velour running suit, started her speech by leading the audience in a few simple exercises. "Everybody, clap your hands," she said. "Put your arms in the air. Say hooray!" Few disobeyed.

Batson, who taught for the Seaford School District for 40 years, stressed how important it is for parents to take good care of their children. "Don't forget about them," she said. "Don't put them in front of the TV. Spend quality time with them. Kids need adults in their lives." She added that showing affection for children, even after they are grown, is also important. "How often do you hug your children?" she asked. "Children need that from their parents, not just when they are babies, but after they are grown too. Give them a hug now and then, to let them know that you truly care." Monday's prayer breakfast also featured newly-appointed Sussex County register of wills Greg Fuller. Fuller, whose voice was hoarse after an afternoon of cheering the Philadelphia Eagles in their championship game Sunday, talked about the theme of the celebration, "Where Are the Dreamers? Addressing the Next Generation." "Where are the dreamers? You are the dreamers," he said. "It is our responsibility to address the next generation. We all have to be role models." Like many speakers throughout the breakfast, Fuller called on members of the audience to emulate not only Martin Luther King Jr., but Barack Obama, who was inaugurated the country's first African-American president on Tuesday. "Martin Luther King and Barack Obama are both men of faith," he said. "They both stepped out in faith and we have to step out in faith to, not trusting the people we know we are, but trusting in the people God wants us to be." Master of ceremonies Desiree Laws-Moore said that we are living in historic times. "Dr. Martin Luther King would be 80 if he were alive today," she said. "Imagine what he would be thinking today, the day before the inauguration of 2009." And she cautioned people to pay attention as history unfolds. "Who know what's in store for our country now?" she asked. The Rev. J. Christopher Pennington, minister at St. John's United Methodist Church, Seaford, offered the breakfast's invocation. "Let us look upon the past and remember it, and let us look toward the future," he said. "And we pray that the walls of division and barriers of inequity will be broken down and dismembered."

News tips wanted
Call us with ideas for news and features. We're always looking for good stories to share with readers. Call Bryant Richardson at 629-9788.