The Springfield Education Foundation Alumni and Community Awards were established in 2014 to highlight the professional accomplishments and community impact of Springfield Public Schools graduates and advocates.
This years winners are …
Voorhees SEF Advocate of the Year Award
Joe and Judy Leahy
Judy and Joe met in 1968, when she was in college at St. Mary’s and he was in law school at Notre Dame. When they married in 1973, Judy was working at the National Wildlife Federation and Joe was working at the Department of Justice. They subsequently moved to Oregon where, after a short time with Lane County, Joe joined the law firm of Harms and Harold (and then Harms, Harold & Leahy) in Springfield, where he has continued to practice for 40+ years. Judy worked intermittently while her children were growing up, first for Willamalane, then as an English teacher at Marist High School, and finally as a general education teacher/counselor at Looking Glass Youth and Family Services. Since 2012, Judy has served on the board of the Springfield Education Foundation and currently chairs SEF’s Development Committee. Joe and Judy have three sons—Joseph, Timothy, and Andrew—who attended Springfield public schools, obtained excellent educations, and found successful careers in computer software technology, banking, and foreign service work. Judy and Joe are grateful to the community of Springfield for helping them raise their children and enjoy an amazing quality of life. Involvement in the Springfield Education Foundation and in other nonprofits gives them the opportunity to say thank you.
Legacy Family Award
The Fryback Family
Mindy and Travis Fryback have lived in Springfield since they were married in 2001. They have three children: Cyrus, who graduated from Springfield High School and is engaged to Marissa; Cooper, a freshmen who went through Springfield Public Schools until this year; and Chase, a 5th grader at Yolanda Elementary. The Frybacks’ connection to Springfield schools goes in the other direction as well—Travis’ father and step-mother are both retired SPS educators. The Frybacks’ involvement with the Springfield Education Foundation began after Mindy and Travis attended the first Night of 11,000 Stars. Inspired by all the work that was being done to support Springfield Public Schools, they began volunteering with the foundation in various ways. Eventually, Travis joined the SEF board, serving first as a director and then as chair. Today, the Frybacks continue to support the foundation by hosting an annual fundraiser BBQ—a summer event not to be missed! Travis and Mindy own The Party Team/Team Casino, producing event entertainment both regionally and nationally. When they aren’t entertaining or supporting local educators and students, the Frybacks enjoy snow sports, RVing, motorsports, tropical vacations, theme parks, attending Ducks games, and general adventuring.
Distinguished Educator Award
Kari is a proud homegrown Springfield educator, having attended Walterville Elementary, Thurston Middle, and Thurston High (Class of ’90). She started her teaching career at Mohawk Elementary as a half-time temporary before moving to Yolanda Elementary, where she remained for the next 11 years, teaching 1st, 2nd, 3rd & 5th grades. In 2012, Kari transferred to the District Office as an Elementary Instructional Coach and was asked to teach a parenting class for families that were struggling with truancy. This little parenting class was the spark that has now become Kari’s passion for supporting students, families, and schools that are working toward reducing chronic absenteeism within Springfield. Kari enjoys seeing her students and families out and about in the community. She also enjoys all the funny stories from her twin sister, Kristi, who has infiltrated many a selfie taken by unsuspecting students wanting a photo with their “former teacher.” Kari is a current and founding member of the Officer Chris Kilcullen Memorial Scholarship Board and a past Springfield Education Foundation Board member (2013–2019). Being a teacher, mentor and volunteer in the Springfield Community has provided Kari an opportunity to give back to the community she dearly loves.
Outstanding Alumni Award
Jason is a legacy of one of the founding black families of Eugene/ Springfield, The Reynolds, who moved here in the early ’40s. Jason has lived all over the country, from the South to the West Coast and even Alaska, experiencing a number of cultural perspectives early in life that he brought to bear when returning to Oregon and attending school in Springfield. A graduate of Springfield High School (Class of ‘97), Jason continued his education at the University of Oregon, graduating in 2005 with a BA in Journalism/ Communications and minors in Ethnic Studies, Psychology, and Art. Following graduation, Jason served in a number of capacities, including a reporter in Portland, substitute teacher and student advocate in the Step Up After School Program, counselor at De Paul Youth Rehab, and counselor at Jasper Mountain/SAFE Center. Jason is currently a Student Success Navigator with the African American Black Student Success Plan Grant at Lane ESD. He is responsible for assisting black students, their families, and the schools that serve them across Lane County. Jason has been instrumental in increasing the number of traditionally underrepresented students on track for graduation and is greatly humbled in the awesome undertaking of collaboratively evolving our community into an equitable one for all peoples. In the words of José da Silva, Springfield High School Principal, “If I could sum up Jason Floyd in a few words, it would be ‘dedicated to all students with a focus on traditionally underrepresented ones.’ I’ve never met anyone who so completely commits to goals and the organizations and teams in which he serves.”
Congrats to the 2020 winners, and a big thank you to everyone who nominated a Springfield Public Schools alumni or community member!