Clay Grizzle honored as Gene Budig outstanding faculty
This year's winner of the Dr. Gene A. Budig award for outstanding faculty was awarded posthumously to Clay Grizzle, speech and theater instructor. The announcement was made Friday during Commencement Ceremonies a McCook Community College.
Dr. Budig, an MCC graduate, provides a $1,000 award each year to recognize and honor outstanding educators. The $1,000 that accompanies this prize will be given to the Not Your Average Theater Group in honor of Clay
Grizzle was in the middle of his sixth year at MCC when he died unexpectedly on February 5.
"I love that we are honoring Clay with this award, he was an outstanding instructor and made a lasting impression on the community, our students, and the MCC family," said Kelly Rippen, McCook Community College Vice President.
"Clay Grizzle was always challenging his students to do their best at everything. We would hear him visiting with students in his classes and with kind intentions -- tell them 'You can do better,'" said one letter of nomination.
Grizzle frequently said, "mediocrity was rewarded on the high school level" and he refused to accept mediocrity from his college students. He encouraged actors to do better and to always think and use his/her brain. He had the ability to visit with his students and be honest with them and actually encouraged them to do better.
"Clay used PowerPoints, videos, real-life situations, modeling, and mentoring," said another nomination letter. "He wanted students to be actively involved in class—so if they were not he randomly asked questions to get them to participate."
He actually had students in his cinema classes teaching. He also allowed his theater students a voice to pick the play that they would like to perform. He utilized "student-centered learning strategies."
"Continually, we would see Clay have students walking into his office to visit with him, check on their grades, or to just talk about something more in-depth from class," noted one fellow instructor. Grizzle was often seen carrying on meaningful discussions with students about life in general as well as sitting down and talking to them at the tables in Walsh-Brady.
"He was very personable and made himself available. He attended all athletic competitions that he could—even if it involved traveling to other states. His philosophy was that if students see you at these activities—they are more likely to be in class."
A few hours after Commencement ceremonies in 2017, Grizzle sponsored the Not Your Average Theater Group's theater tour to England. He directed two plays per year. He had two theater students present a play helping the fire department with their First Safety Week demonstrations a few years ago. He also staged the play "The Guys" – a 911-themed play – which helped raise $6,000 for the McCook Fire Department to purchase equipment. He also assisted with a fund raiser for the Fox Theater by directing "Nunsense."
"We frequently heard him taking calls from former students at his previous institutions—which shows he truly had an impact on their lives," said one instructor who nominated Grizzle. "We heard him in his office as he worked with and advised students concerning their future plans. Even if their plans were not in his major—he advised them who on campus they should contact or which classes they need to take to be successful."
He sponsored a theater audition day for area high school students with 10 colleges and universities attending and offering scholarships to their institutions. He planned to do this every few years.
He was a Rotarian and worked with the Community Theater group. He volunteered at the Fox Theater and attended Buffalo Commons Storytelling Festival.
"The legacy of Clay Grizzle was that he truly cared about his students and their future. He had such a caring demeanor about him with his students that this award would be a great testimony to his outstanding commitment to education. His community involvement was phenomenal and that evidence could be seen by the number of students, colleagues, and community leaders who participated in the various memorial events held both on and off campus in his honor."
"This award is a great way to honor Clay's legacy and provide the funding to the theater group he was extremely passionate about," Rippen said.