By Mallory Sherwood, Staff Writer
It is the last game of the season; the team is undefeated.
Jason Knight, junior political science major from Abilene and coach of the 8-10-year-old Boys and Girls Club team, cheers his two players from the goalie box as the game ends, tied 2-2.
Knight started coaching when introduced to community service by one of his professors: Dr. Mel Hailey, chair of the Department of Political Science.
The Abilene Education Council will reward Hailey for his outstanding leadership and involvement in the community and with students Tuesday at the National Center for Children’s Illustrated Literature.
Each year the AEC awards a professor from each college or university in Abilene for community involvement, community service and ethical conduct worthy of recognition, said Georgia Townsend, director of education in the AEC.
“Abilene felt it was their role to recognize faculty from the community, outside of their institution,” Townsend said.
The deans of each college on campus nominated Hailey, and the provost’s cabinet chose him, Dr. Dwayne VanRheenen, provost, said in an e-mail.
“We look at the nature, quantity and quality of the contributions they have made to the Abilene community and surrounding area,” VanRheenen said. “Dr. Hailey has given many hours of service to the Abilene community through his own work as well as that of the students.”
Hailey has served as president, treasurer and is currently a member on the board of directors of the NOAH project. He has also served on the board of directors for the local chapter of Habitat for Humanity and for Meals on Wheels.
“If you are going to live in a community and be part of a community and take from a community, it is your responsibility to give back,” Hailey said. “No matter how much you give to the community, you are going to get so much more back.
“I do this because I live here,” he said. “It was the way of life in the Hailey family. I learned from my parents of helping others.”
In addition to his contribution to the community, Hailey’s love for community service has affected his students’ lives as well. In some of his classes, Hailey said he requires 15 hours of community service.
“This is really only one hour a week of service,” Hailey said. “By doing this, I hope that they will start and then continue on serving throughout school.”
Knight said he experiences Hailey’s service through his class.
“He is extremely involved in his classes, and I believe he takes his students’ intellectual growth very serious and tries to create stimulating discussions,” Knight said. “He has a passionate servant heart, and I am very glad that he is being honored in this way. Dr. Hailey’s office is always open if you want to talk to him about life problems, law school, classes or anything else you need help or advice on.”
Megan Holmes, senior political science major from Coppell, has worked with Hailey in the community.
“He cares about the community he lives in and is interested in getting students in relationship with the Abilene community,” Holmes said. “He is using his faith and education to influence those around him.”
VanRheenen said it is important to not only honor students for their Christian service and leadership, but to honor faculty members as well.
“I believe that pointing out role models for the rest of us to learn from is very important,” he said. “These people work quietly to serve and lead as Jesus asked us to do. They seek no recognition, and we are grateful to them.”