Lawrence husband and wife teaching duo receive $10,000 ‘Bobs’ Award
Lawrence High School’s husband and wife music-teaching duo, Mike Jones and Rachel Dirks, have been named the first joint recipients of the Lawrence Schools Foundation’s annual “Bobs Award.”
Amid a standing ovation from friends, family members and work colleagues, the award, along with a $10,000 check, was presented to the couple Wednesday afternoon in Lawrence High School’s cafeteria.
Each year the award is presented to the Lawrence educator who best demonstrates exemplary teaching skills and a commitment to education and their students, according to the foundation.
This is the first year the award has been split between two educators, said Gail Vick, president of the foundation’s board of trustees.
“You don’t very often have married teachers in the same schools,” she said.
In announcing the couple’s recognition, Superintendent Rick Doll read several submitted comments from students and teachers alike.
“Mr. Jones taught with calm confidence that inspires students’ respect and cooperation, two necessary elements in classrooms of up to 150 students at a time,” Doll read.
“Rachel is an amazing musician, but she has an equal passion for the teaching of her students both on the junior high level as well as high school,” he continued.
Holding bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Missouri — Kansas City and Southern Oregon University respectively, Jones began working for Lawrence High School in 2001. Throughout his tenure, his classes have included Concert Band, Symphonic Band, AP Music Theory, Jazz Improv and Wind Ensemble.
Dirks holds a bachelor’s degree from Bethel College and a master’s from the University of Texas in Austin. She joined the staff at Lawrence High School in 2001. Over the years she has taught Instrumental Music/Orchestra, Freshman Orchestra, Concert Orchestra and Symphonic Orchestra, among many others.
Both Jones’ and Dirks’ parents were at the ceremony, congratulating their children on the award. Neither set of parents were surprised by the recognition, and both acknowledged the positive working and personal relationship between the two.
“Their offices are right across the hall from each other, and they’ve still managed to be friends,” said Marvin Dirks, Rachel Dirks’ father. “Sometimes closeness can produce irritation, but those two go right over that stuff.”
Dirks and Jones said they were surprised and humbled to receive the award, but were not yet sure how they would spend the $10,000.
“It’ll go towards something proactive,” said Dirks, laughingly.
The Bobs Award was established through the foundation by a group of community members who wish to remain anonymous. Each member, however, shares the same first name, Bob. The Lawrence Schools Foundation is a nonprofit organization focused on raising money for the benefit of students in Lawrence’s school district.