Some teachers just don’t know when to quit. Conway, Missouri’s Billy Coyle is one of those teachers, and his students are all the better for it. A science teacher for more than 40 years, Coyle has touched the lives of many students both in and out of the classroom. One former student credits Coyle with teaching him and others how to be mentors as adults. “It is like virus growth, “ he says, “but a good virus.”
Another former student remembers with emotion how Coyle opened up his home to him when his family was having difficulties. The stories are endless, but former Conway school superintendent Chris Berger believes Billy Coyle’s impact goes far beyond his roles as teacher, mentor, and compassionate friend.
“Mr. Coyle has always been civic-minded,” Berger reflected with a laugh, “he even served as Mayor.”
Considering all that Billy Coyle has done, it should be no surprise that his “giving” has extended into more formal philanthropy. Inspired from his personal commitment to encouraging, challenging, and motivating students, Coyle made a substantial gift to the Community Foundation of the Ozarks to establish the Billy Coyle Leadership Fund, an endowment dedicated to students with an interest in science, science education, or law enforcement. Not only will this fund assist scores of Conway students in the years to come, but it became an anchor fund for the establishment of the Conway School Foundation.
“Mr. Coyle has given more than $100,000 to support the school and students,” Berger remarked. “But moving our school community into true foundation building may ultimately be his most important legacy.”
But money is only part of the story. Berger believes the Conway School Foundation’s ability to facilitate community engagement is every bit as important as the financial aspects. “This foundation will keep people aware of our good news and the challenges we face. Also, we an attract foundation board members whose children may have graduated or even left the community. Hopefully, we can put people in a position where they can really help us throughout their lifetimes.”
Billy Coyle. He keeps giving; he keeps teaching. And it seems like folks in Conway are learning their lessons well.
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