Each year during the Commencement ceremony, Hobart and William Smith Colleges celebrate the early childhood educators of graduating HWS seniors for their impact in the lives of students during elementary, middle and high school.
Tina Hartounian, culinary arts teacher at San Fernando Senior High School in San Fernando, Calif., will be presented with the Colleges’ Touching the Future Award during Commencement 2019 on Sunday, May 19. She was nominated by William Samayoa ’19.
Hartounian taught Samayoa’s freshman English class in high school. Now a writing and rhetoric major, Samayoa says her mentorship and encouragement led him to pursue challenging English courses. In her classes, he was exposed to the ways the personal and the political intersect and learned how to communicate effectively and apply lessons outside the classroom. A Posse Scholar, Samayoa says Hartounian helped prepare him for the college access and youth leadership development program that led him to HWS.
“I have known Ms. Hart since my first-year in high school and she has remained a mentor for me throughout my college career,” Samayoa wrote in his nominating essay. “When I met her, she [had] committed herself to teaching honors English to a cohort of students for four years… Ms. Hart and I both believed in this model of support. But she knew that my passion for writing needed a new community of thinkers…Ms. Hart is one of those educators who are so invested that they become part of the community they teach in…She wanted to connect with her students in the classroom and the community outside…and never let me forget that I, William, will do anything I set my heart to do.”
The Touching the Future Award was established by the Hobart and William Smith Colleges Board of Trustees in 2004. It derives its name from the famous words of Christa McAuliffe, the first teacher selected to participate in the space shuttle program who died in the explosion of Challenger. McAuliffe expressed the sentiments of many teachers when she said, “I touch the future, I teach.”