Elizabeth Billman 001

She dedicated her life to helping others.

Whether it was via one of her many roles with Southeastern School Corporation – now known as Lewis Cass Schools – or with the Cass County Community Foundation, Elizabeth Billman lived to serve. And a year after she lost her battle with cancer, Billman continues to serve.

Announced on Monday, the Cass County Community Foundation will hold its first “Elizabeth A. Billman Excellence in Teaching Award” event.

All area kindergarten through 6th-grade principals are encouraged to nominate teachers who are new to the profession. Nominees must exhibit the kind of commitment to their students as Billman did during her career with the Walton-based school corporation. Nominees also must embody Billman’s thirst for knowledge, learning, and dedication to community service. The purpose of this award, said CCCF President and Chief Executive Officer Deanna Crispen, is to help those who have five or fewer years of teaching experience.

Nominations from the Caston, Lewis Cass, Logansport, and Pioneer school districts are due by March 31 with the winner selected in May. The recipient will receive a plaque and a $500 stipend for the purchase of classroom goods such as poster boards, pencils, erasers, and decorations.

“She was a wonderful role model for teachers,” said Crispen, explaining that when the board was considering ways to honor their friend, they could think of no better way than supporting a young teacher. “We wanted to honor her life and her work. Our way of doing that was to honor her through (helping) elementary teachers.”

Billman had taught for several years before advancing to principal of Thompson Elementary (now Lewis Cass Elementary). She retired after 38 years of service. During her career as an educator and administrator, she also was a mentor and a role model to many teachers and young women, said Crispen.

She also served for 16 years on the CCCF’s board of directors and held the position of chairman for two terms.

Crispen said Billman’s dedication went far above and beyond anyone’s expectations. “We’ve never lost anyone who served as long and as hard as she did. This is only the second time in 28 years that we’ve lost a sitting board member.”

“Liz was the consummate servant leader, a true friend and colleague,” she said in a news release. “The impact of her leadership and many contributions of time, talent and treasure reach far beyond what she ever imagined. In a time when the world struggles to know the truth, Liz was a shining example on how to live a full life in service to others, true to herself and unwavering in her faith. She will be deeply missed.”

Principals may nominate as many teachers as they deem worthy by sending candidates’ information to the Foundation. Those chosen must meet the requirements, including dedication to the profession and no more than five years’ worth of experience in the classroom.

Crispen said the annual stipend may go up over time as costs for classroom materials increase.

For more information, call Crispen at 574-722-2200.

Reach Kristi Hileman at kristi.hileman@pharostribune.com or 574-732-5150

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