SHS's Meg Ward inducted into the Jostens Renaissance Hall of Fame
Published on Wednesday, May 11, 2022
Meg Ward was in the middle of a lesson with her students on Tuesday afternoon when some unexpected guests suddenly hurried into her classroom at Stratford High.
It was not just a few people – it was a fairly large entourage that included school administrators and staff (armed with a vase of flowers), district officials, representatives from Jostens Renaissance, her husband and son, and two people with cameras.
A few seconds of being stunned and confused turned into an emotional celebration for Ward, who quickly realized the big news: she has been inducted into the Jostens Renaissance Hall of Fame.
“I am surrounded by so many people that I love and cherish…and I wouldn’t be where I’m at today without all of you,” she said, gesturing to everyone in the room.
“I have a heart for what I do…I’m very overwhelmed,” she added. “I don’t even know how to put it into words.”
Jostens Renaissance is an acclaimed educational enrichment program designed to empower students and teachers and inspire academic performance.
Ward is a math teacher and has been a part of Stratford High a total of 24 years. She has led the school’s Renaissance program since 2004; members are student leaders who work on improving the culture at their school by connecting with fellow students, teachers and staff.
Mikell Carroll, representative with Jostens Renaissance, told Ward’s students that it is “past time” to induct Ward into the Hall of Fame, noting her impact in Berkeley County and beyond – particularly in working to spread the message of Renaissance and inspiring other high schools to start their own Renaissance programs.
Ward is currently preparing for an upcoming Renaissance conference in Orlando in July – “This should make Orlando even more fun,” Carroll said.
The news was met by Ward’s equally-stunned group of students in the classroom, some of whom got misty-eyed themselves listening to Ward talk about how much she loves being a part of Stratford and the school’s Renaissance program.
“You all are the reason I do this,” she told her students.
Induction into the Jostens Renaissance Hall of Fame is the highest honor that an educator can receive from the organization. It recognizes the successes and achievements of the nation’s finest educators, validated by collected data, documentation and recommendations.
Ward said she is humbled because she knows what it means to be inducted into the Hall of Fame.
“The Renaissance Hall of Famers are the ones who have really made the biggest impact in their schools, their districts, their states, through Renaissance,” she said. “They’ve been doing it a long time and they share, and they teach and they transform lives and they network with people – they’re just amazing resources, and I’m honored to be recognized like that because I want more people to know what this can do for their school.”
Ward was nominated for the honor by BCSD’s Chief Administration Officer for Secondary Schools, Heather Taylor, who previously served as the principal of Stratford High – a role currently filled by interim principal Jayma Diaz, who praised Ward for her ongoing work, telling her that she has changed many people’s lives for the better.
“I am so honored to work with you,” Diaz said. “I’m excited where we’re going, where our vision is headed…You are my starfish, so thank you for being my starfish.”
Taylor further praised Ward for her efforts to help other schools get their Renaissance programs up and running, and that many of them will be represented by Ward at the upcoming Orlando conference.
“It is truly a labor of love for what you have done,” she said.
Ward said she can still remember her first-ever Renaissance conference in 2004, and said it changed the way she looked at school, as well as her role within the school and how she works with teachers and students.
“It really, really changed me, and I never looked back,” she said. “Jostens Renaissance is good stuff – it’s really good stuff.”
Ward thanks the school district, her Stratford High team, her students, Jostens Renaissance representatives, and her family members for their support; Ward is married to Ronnie Ward, the band director at Westview Middle. Their son, Wesley, was also present during Tuesday’s surprise.
Ronnie Ward said his wife recently received an emotional message from a former Stratford High student who graduated a few years ago.
“What she is teaching you (the students) through Renaissance…will inspire you, and when you bring that back to your school it will be infectious,” he said, adding, “I’m her biggest fan.”
Ward said Renaissance is a “bright light” in a school.
“It’s really changed me as a person,” she said.