A school teacher can never be rich except from fulfillment of helping a kid find his or her way. Few educators vacation on the Riviera, at Pebble Beach, Costa Del Sol or Bora Bora. For most of them, a corner room at a modest hotel at Destin or Hilton Head will do. Financial reward is not central to their goals. Their reward is giving back on a daily basis, motivating kids to excel and do right.
They often sport high handicaps on the golf course, but that is ameliorated by the high marks they get when it comes to championing the golden rule and underscoring service to others, particularly maturing, and oft-times troubled kids.
They give of themselves, often filling voids which come about when the right touch is missing at home. They exhibit patience when nerves are frayed and fractured. They are upbeat when moods are gray. They exhibit smiley faces when frowns hang over a classroom.
They accentuate the positive, they are practitioners of “can do” and “thumbs-up.” They are forever jolly good personalities imbued with an indefatigable work ethic, always making sure that selflessness rides shotgun with them every day.
They are confidantes and counselors. They comfort those with fragile composures. They encourage those with exceptional talent to be the best they can be. There is little a caring, giving and forgiving teacher can’t do.
The aforementioned is an attempt to describe the heart and soul of Bob (and his wife, Nell) Chambers, who devoted their lives to making the atmosphere, goals and objectives of Pace Academy, and subsequently Athens Academy, the best they could be. In addition to being a sage and sanguine leader and adept administrator, Chambers was also a doting sports aficionado and coach—and very, very accomplished.
Led by Jackie Bradford, founder of the Atlanta Tipoff Club, a group of basketball ole timers, from Greater Atlanta, met last week for lunch and honored Chambers for his leadership in education and coaching successes. Something of a well-deserved lifetime achievement award would be an apt description.
Bob Chambers’ resume includes these salient facts: B. S. and Masters Degrees, University of Georgia, graduating Phi Beta Kappa; spent 50 years in education. He founded the varsity athletic program at Pace, where he was Assistant Headmaster and Upper School Principal. He coached basketball at Pace for 18 years, winning 267 games, his teams twice advancing to state final fours and reached the state finals in 1982; his ten soccer teams advanced to the state finals four times; his 1972 track and field team captured the state title at Olympics I, and he was named State Coach of the Year by the Georgia Athletic Coaches Association, and the AJC. In support of athletics he served in the 70’s and 80’s on the State Executive Committee of the Georgia High School Association, was President of the Atlanta Tipoff Club, and is recipient of the Steve Schmidt Award for his outstanding contribution to Basketball in Georgia. Kids with an exposure to Bob Chambers’ professional modus operandi gained an up close and personal view of the significance of a well-rounded lifestyle. No educator ever set a finer example.
At Athens Academy, he served as Golf Coach for five years during which one of his teams won a state championship in 1991 for which he was named State Coach of the Year by GACA. He has been recognized for the leadership positions he held in elite educational organizations and for his community service in Athens and Oconee County.
Under Chambers’ leadership, Athens Academy gained national recognition as a well-balanced home for academics, athletics and the arts. Chambers guided Athens Academy to explosive growth. The school added seven new buildings to an expanded campus during his 30 years as headmaster. He oversaw the raising of academic standards, pushed for greater student and faculty involvement in community service, and along with athletics, made the arts a cornerstone of the school’s balanced curriculum.
Perhaps his crowning achievement came as a fund raiser when he developed a partnership with the Bertelsmann Foundation of Germany that led to more than $8 million dollars in gifts to Athens Academy.
Someone has said that “Bob’s pinnacle achievement in his profession is to have earned the affection and respect of thousands of young people, stretching from Atlanta to Athens, and wherever his former students have gone to live and work. They are better people for having been motivated by a man whose magnetic personality and singular devotion to education inspired them to reach for excellence, while always remembering to help others along the way.”