Three of Norfolk Collegiate School's teachers were awarded the Jo Melchor Hackney and John H. Hackney Jr. Memorial Endowment Fund Award during the 53rd graduation of on Friday, May 22. Each year this award is presented to faculty members who are committed to a career in teaching, exemplify excellence in the classroom and influence other teachers by example. 
The fund was created in 2005 by former trustee John H. Hackney Jr. to provide three annual merit awards to honor one teacher from the Lower, Middle and Upper Schools.
This year, the award was presented to first-grade teacher Catherine Thomson, Middle School science teacher Alan Stell, and Upper School English teacher Ashley Billman. The awardees will have the opportunity to use their funds during the 2015-16 school year to attend professional development conferences, courses and programs that improve the landscape of the academic program at Collegiate.  
Billman was thrilled to receive this honor as a reward for her hard work and dedication to her job. “Working with high school students and sharing my love of literature with them are two closely related passions of mine, so it was especially great to feel that those efforts are recognized outside my individual classroom,” she said.  

Mr. Hackney created the fund in honor of his wife, Jo Melchor Hackney, who passed away in 2003. She developed an appreciation for Norfolk Collegiate’s small class sizes, dedicated teachers and high-quality facilities. Since 1984, when their granddaughter, Cara Paige Oxenham, entered the first grade, the Hackney family has been active members of the Norfolk Collegiate Community.  
Annually, faculty members are nominated for the award by school administration and the awardees are chosen trough consultation with Mr. Hackney’s granddaughter and NCS alumna Cara Oxenham ’96. 
“I am grateful, of course, to the Hackney family for supporting our faculty and our school through this award,” said Billman. “Most teachers participate in some kind of professional development over the summer but funding can be hard to come by,” she continued. “The fact that Norfolk Collegiate has a relationship with a donor who is dedicated to helping teachers accomplish that goal is important to the vitality of our community in the long run.” 
Billman is a firm believer of life-long learning and plans to attend the Smithsonian Summer Institute: Teaching the Humanities through Art, this summer in Washington, D.C.