A.B. Baggett never sought recognition for his 41 years of service to Hoover students, but the assistant band director at Berry Middle School and Spain Park High School certainly deserved the award he got this year, colleagues and former students said.
Baggett was the Hoover City Schools faculty member who received the Finley Character Award, given to someone who exemplifies the outstanding character traits of former Berry High School coach Bob Finley.
He was recognized in late March in front of more than 800 people at the Finley Awards banquet at the Cahaba Grand Conference Center.
Spain Park High senior Jameson Floyd and Hoover High senior Evan Franklin were the two top student winners of the Finley Award this year.
Baggett’s ‘infectious enthusiasm’
Cissy Johnson, one of Baggett’s former students who went on to become a colleague as choir teacher at Berry Middle, said in her nomination letter that as a student, she always found Baggett to be an encourager, even when she least deserved it.
“His love of music, his love for us as students and his sense of humor kept us engaged and excited about learning,” Johnson wrote in her letter. “Mr. Baggett mirrors so many of Coach Finley’s attributes of high and outstanding character,” she wrote. “Commitment to excellence … commitment to helping form students into successful humans and contributors of society … commitment to leading by example … commitment to living a life of faith and allowing that to be grossly evident in his daily work.”
Kathy Wheaton, who was Baggett’s principal at Berry before moving to Greystone Elementary, said in a nomination letter that Baggett always had patience with the large numbers of children who had never held an instrument before they got to Berry.
He was always willing to work with any student who wanted to try band and always kept in mind those families who struggled financially when he made decisions about uniforms, travel and other costs, Wheaton said.
Multitalented Jameson Floyd
Floyd enjoys multiple sports, including soccer, track, baseball and football, b
ut basketball has become his niche, serving as a varsity shooting guard and team captain for the Spain Park Jaguars.
He also taught himself to play the piano and guitar, ranks among the top students in his class academically and was elected president of the Spain Park Student Government Association.
But it wasn’t so much Floyd’s talent that prompted others to nominate him for the Finley Award. It’s the way he carries his skills with character and humility and the way he uses his leadership skills to serve others.
“Jameson is a born leader,” said the Rev. Clyde Carter, the pastor at Westminster Presbyterian Church, in a nomination letter. “I have watched Jameson as he motivated other young people to sing in the choir, help serve food at the homeless shelter in our city, while still thirsting for spiritual knowledge.”
Floyd has been involved for most of his life with the Jack and Jill of America organization, which strives to develop future African-American leaders through volunteer service.
“Through his quiet yet confident demeanor, he is a role model to teens,” wrote Gwenea Jackson McDaniel, a sponsor for the teen division of Jack and Jill, in a nomination letter. “The younger teenagers look up to him, and they follow his lead on how to conduct themselves and engage in activities.”
Floyd has volunteered with the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life event, the A.G. Gaston Boys and Girls Club, Serve Day, the Firehouse Shelter and the YMCA’s after-school snack program, said Greg Tucker, the scoutmaster for Floyd’s Boy Scout troop.
“Jameson’s character and moral principles are of the highest standards,” Tucker wrote in a nomination letter. “He is willing to stand strong in his beliefs. I have personally seen Jameson privately address other Scouts when their behavior was out of line and separate himself from a group when their actions were not aligned with his moral compass.”
Evan Franklin — strong work ethic
Franklin’s father died of cancer when he was young, so he understands loss and treats life as precious, Hoover High visual arts teacher Ben Rigsby said in a nomination letter.
“This is demonstrated every day with a kind word and happy smile to everyone he passes,” Rigsby wrote. “I love to watch him in the hallways as he greets and cheers up all he passes. He just loves making people happy.”
Franklin gravitates to students who need a little extra help and forms friendships, Rigsby said. “This is probably why he knows everyone. He has a way of listening and getting to know people that doesn’t just stop after class.”
On the athletic front, Franklin has shown leadership with the distance runners on the track team, track and cross-country coach Devon Hind wrote in a nomination letter.
“He ‘rallied the troops’ and organized athlete-led practices throughout the summer. He made a point to learn who the new freshmen on the team were, and he continues to be an encourager to them,” Hind wrote. “Evan has high goals for himself and the team.”
He’s a self-motivated hard worker who always comes prepared to do what is asked of him in practice and self-disciplined enough to run on his own on the weekends, Hind said.