Memorial concert for teacher will provide scholarships


First Posted: 8/31/2009

Joe Kirkman influenced many young lives during his long teaching career in the Surry County school system. And though Kirkman was lost to cancer in 2005, his educational legacy is living on through a scholarship in his memory.
That scholarship has a chance to grow significantly on Sept. 12 when a third-annual benefit concert billed as the Joe Fest will unfold at Jomeokee Music Park in Pinnacle, featuring seven bands performing rock and other music.
Admission is free for the event scheduled from 2 to 10 p.m., with donations to be accepted for the Joseph Roy Kirkman Teacher Scholarship Fund at Surry Community College.
The upcoming fund-raiser will merge two loves of Kirkmans, education and music. In addition to teaching math, science and history at Franklin Elementary and Pilot Mountain Middle schools for 32 years, he was an accomplished drummer who often performed with band mates at various venues in the area.
One of his former students has called Kirkman a friend, teacher, mentor and an example of how to live, who never failed to challenge us. (He) pushed all of us and we are better off for it.
Mr. Kirkman had his classroom in a trailer, a setting that seemed perfect for his extraordinary lessons, another said.
Kirkman had grown up in Mount Airy and graduated from North Surry High School in 1969, before receiving a degree from Wake Forest University in 1973. He spent his entire teaching career in Surry County, the last three years with grades 6-8 at the Pilot Mountain school, before being forced to resign in December 2004 due to his illness.
After he died on June 9, 2005, Kirkmans wife, Trinette, and some of his friends decided to launch the Joseph Roy Kirkman Teacher Scholarship in order to give back to his community. The scholarship, which funds tuition and books, is open to students at the community college who are pursuing a bachelors degree in education.
Joe was informed about the scholarship before he passed away; and was extremely humbled by the thought, as those who knew him could imagine, says a Web site dedicated to the fund-raiser.
About The Event
In commenting about Joe Fest, Marion Venable, executive director of the Surry Community College Foundation which administers scholarships to students called it an appropriate tribute to a phenomenal teacher who was admired by students and co-workers alike.
Its a very family atmosphere, Venue said of the event at Jomeokee Music Park, where no alcohol or coolers will be allowed. In addition to the live music, it will include such activities as games for children, door prizes, food, a 50-50 cash drawing, craft vendors and a fireworks show after dark. Camping is available.
The list of groups to perform, which involves some of the musicians to whom Kirkman lent his drumming skills, includes The Bo-Stevens, So Glad, Sons of Elroy, Crawley Hall, JJ Blue, Punk Floyd Project and Joes Jammin Band.
Several businesses and other sponsors are supporting the event, while persons attending will be asked to make tax-deductible contributions for the Kirkman scholarship.
Jomeokee Music Park, which has hosted numerous events over the years, is in the shadow of Pilot Mountain accessible from Exit 129 off U.S. 52.
Venable said the scholarship that Joe Fest will enhance represents a vital financial resource during a tough economic time. Many deserving students are having trouble meeting even basic expenses such as textbook costs, and the Kirkman scholarship boosts the colleges ability to help those pursuing educational careers who are in need, she said.
It just allows us to do more, the foundation official added.
Venable also said the Joseph Roy Kirkman Teacher Scholarship Fund is unique in that it is fueled by the energy of caring people who knew Kirkman and want to regularly honor his memory through Joe Fest.
We have so many scholarships that have very little activity once theyre established, she said.
Contact Tom Joyce at [email protected] or at 719-1924.

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