Guests Honored at 2015 Bill Martin Jr Memorial Symposium

The 11th annual Bill Martin Jr Memorial Symposium wrapped up on Friday, May 11. Attendees were treated to keynote speaker and award-winning author, Floyd Cooper, as well as several specialized breakout sessions, a tour of the Bill Martin Jr Library, the Planetarium and a luncheon.

The 2015 Bill Martin Jr Scholarship Award was presented to Amy Frachiseur, a senior at Texas A&M University-Commerce. The scholarship has been awarded for over 20 years from an endowment established by Bill Martin Jr. The symposium awarded the “Spirit of Martin” award to Dr. Linda Henrie, retiring Superintendent of Mesquite ISD. Rheba Icenhower, co-chair of the symposium from 2004-2014, was also presented with a new award, the “Rheba Martin Icenhower Service Award”.

“The Curriculum and Instruction faculty wanted to honor her for her ‘generosity of spirit’ and longtime service to the department,” said Dr. Martha Foote, professor and department head of Curriculum and Instruction. “The faculty decided that creating an award in her name was a great way to honor her legacy.”

The Bill Martin Jr Memorial Symposium also featured the Authors of Class Writing Competition which is open to kindergarten through eighth grade. This year’s competition featured students from six area schools and over 60 authored books. The competition strives to provide children with both creative and communication skills by having students write and illustrate their own books under the guidance of a teacher, staff or parent.

“The Department of Curriculum and Instruction hosts this yearly symposium to honor the legacy of Dr. Bill Marin Jr, one of the greats in children’s literature and major friend and donor to A&M-Commerce,” said Dr. Foote. “Bill Martin Jr was a master in using rhythm and rhyme to capture children’s hearts and keep the words reverberating in their heads.”

The Bill Martin Jr Memorial Symposium Steering Committee was co-chaired by Dr. Josh Thompson and Susan Bishop, faculty members in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction. Other faculty who chaired a sub-committee for the event was Susan Szabo, Susan Williams, Tami Morton, Kathy Dixon, Melanie Fields, Gilbert Naizer, Debra Lee, Darla Meeks, Barbara Hammack, and Karen Walker.

The Bill Martin Jr Memorial Symposium will honor the 100th year since his birth next spring. For more information, visit