Burleson ISD Honors Thomas French as a Hero for Children

French Recognized for Outstanding Volunteer Service to Students of Burleson ISD


BURLESON, Texas – (Sept. 12, 2017) – The Burleson Independent School District (BISD) School Board honored Thomas French as a Hero for Children at the Sept. 11 board meeting. The State Board of Education selected French for his outstanding volunteer service to BISD students. French is one of 15 volunteers recognized as a 2017 Hero for Children.

“Mr. French is a bonafide Hero for the students at Burleson ISD,” said BISD Chief Academic Innovation Officer Dr. Leslie Bender Jutzi, who nominated French for the award. “He is a magnificent example of the quintessential Servant Leader; he is one who never seeks the credit or the limelight, but one who can always be found working behind the scenes, supporting our students.”

Mr. French began volunteering while in high school, coaching children who did not make the basketball team. In this role, he taught game fundamentals while also helping children grow as individuals. He continued to coach youth sports for 20 years, and also provided a helping hand in the concession stand, setting up for events, transporting gear/equipment, and more. Most recently, he volunteered numerous hours as a FIRST LEGO League judge and referee at several events, and served on a Facilities Advisory Committee to provide input on the future of BISD students.  

“The success of our students depends greatly on them knowing people care,” said French. “Their success is our success. Their failures are our failures. When we pick them up and encourage them to move forward, you can see it in their eyes. It is a gift without a price tag.”

The remaining submission by Dr. Bender Jutzi for Mr. French’s nomination follows:

“Mr. French supports the district’s robotics program and has volunteered over 500 hours mentoring the student robotics team at Hajek Elementary, and several teams throughout the school district. He has served as a FIRST LEGO League referee and judge, as well as resident table builder, painter, sander, mover, etc. He has mentored other parents so that they may also become referees and judges, and he continuously improves his own skills by voluntarily attending robotics clinics at local universities during the summers.

As a direct result of Mr. French’s unwavering and tireless support, the district students have progressed from participating in robotics clubs, to competing in the international FIRST LEGO League for students in grade levels 4-8. Our 4th grade teams have progressed from “Rookie” team status to become “Champion Award” winners and winners of the FIRST LEGO League Regional Qualifiers. As our programs have grown, we have tracked these students as they have gone on to compete in other STEM competitions and excel.

These students are Commended when it comes to math and science. They have an understanding of the design process that rivals that of high school students. Their ability to write a technical proposal has been honed in authentic learning competitions, and their microgravity experiment designs have been sent to the International Space Station as a result. They routinely compete in Designation Imagination and have gone on to the state championship, and recently, NASA recommended that we offer our students an opportunity to submit a proposal to build a nanosatellite to perform certain missions in space. Mr. French’s support of our students, particularly his believe in their ability to chart a path of STEM success, has made a remarkable impact on their academic success. However, Mr. French’s efforts to ensure that Burleson ISD students are college and career ready doesn’t end with robotics. He invests his time, talent and treasure! He supports the parent teacher organizations in the district with their fundraisers. He has donated to the political action committee that supported the recently passed bond initiative that will allow us to accommodate our growing population and enhance our technology. In addition, he gives annually to the Burleson Opportunity Fund, a scholarship fund that provides a backstop for students so that every student who graduates from Burleson ISD who wants to attend college is able to do so. As you can imagine, this is a significant investment in our students, and one that Mr. French has made for the past 25 years, as his 7 children and then  graduated from Burleson ISD to teachers, lawyers, coaches, and highly sought after professionals in their respective fields and productive members in our community. He is a delightful person who has invested in our students and inspired them to dream of a future where they make a difference, and taught them how to do so.”

For more information on the State Board of Education Heroes for Children award, visit http://tea.texas.gov/About_TEA/News_and_Multimedia/Awards/Heroes_for_Children_Award/.