Associate Professor of Geography Aubrey Flagg was named this year's recipient of the First Farmers Bank's Lifetime Achievement Award on Thursday, February 3, 2011.
"This award is given to the quiet but effective achievers who value integrity and embody the American spirit," said Randy Stevens, First Farmers Chairman and CEO. "Aubrey Flagg is tailor made for this award."
“This day is a wonderful day in recognizing not just a human being but also a person who contributes to others; a person who makes other lives' better,” said Columbia State Community College President, Dr. Janet Smith. “I thank First Farmers for recognizing such a wonderful teacher and such a wonderful person.”
A popular and passionate lifelong educator, who has impacted more than 15,000 students in both the classroom and in life during four decades of teaching at Columbia State Community College, has been named recipient of the third annual First Farmers & Merchants Bank Achievement Award.
Aubrey Flagg, an associate professor of Geography at Columbia State, who this year celebrates 40 years in his profession, will be officially awarded the honor in an invitation-only ceremony at his church, Maury Hills Church of Christ, on May 19, 2011.
“Aubrey is an ideal recipient for this award – he’s a great teacher and a wonderful human being who has accomplished much in his life,” said T. Randy Stevens, chairman and CEO, First Farmers Bank. “But more importantly, he’s used his experiences to show scores of students, teachers and other men and women what it means to live an exemplary life in service to others. We’re proud to present this award to him.”
Launched in 2009, the First Farmers Bank Achievement Award seeks to recognize individuals who have been quiet but effective achievers and whose integrity and successes are representative of both the American spirit and the values of First Farmers. Previous winners include David Weathers (2010), a Major League Baseball veteran and Lawrenceburg native, and Gwendolynne Smith Jackson (2009), a Knoxville veterinarian and graduate of Columbia secondary and collegiate schools.
“Aubrey’s commitment to higher education is reflected in his passion for helping students succeed,” said Dr Janet F. Smith, president of Columbia State. “Those that have spent even one brief moment in his classroom know that he’s more than an outstanding college professor – he’s a motivator and a true inspiration to everyone that crosses his patch. He has a gift of being able to inject positive energy into any situation and a passion for rallying people together to support a cause. We’re truly proud of Aubrey and privileged to have him as a member of our team”
Flagg’s story is one of great victories.
Raised in a family of six boys and girls in Cambridge, Massachusetts, it was Flagg’s encouraging mother who steadfastly believed in him, and athletics (he lettered in baseball, basketball, track and football, in which he became a Parade Magazine All-American honorable mention), that became his bedrock and ticket to a better life. In 1964, the young man was awarded a football scholarship to Austin Peay State University in Clarksville, Tennessee.
Oblivious to the blessing of a collegiate full ride, three people stepped in to further influence his life – his football coach, Bill Dupes, who continually believed in him and his abilities, his former teammate and roommate, Carlton Flatt, who helped him truly appreciate the opportunity he had received, and his soon-to-be wife, Judy Powell, whose parents welcomed him like a son. Aubrey and Judy married in Clarksville, 42 years ago.
He graduated from Austin Peay in 1968 with a BS in history/geography and achieved his Masters in geography from The University of Tennessee Knoxville in 1970.
In May 1971, Flagg was working as a graduate assistant/map librarian at UT when then Columbia State President Dr. Harold Pryor asked him to teach at the new community college, the first in the state designed to provide a college education to an entirely new segment of Tennesseans. Flagg relished the prospect of returning to Middle Tennessee and never looked back, starting at the school in 1971as an instructor of geography and becoming an associate professor in 1980.
The much-admired teacher has won numerous awards and honors during his tenure, including receiving the first Columbia State Outstanding Faculty Award in 1978. He was also a recipient of the Faculty of the Year Student Graduation Award in 1998 and the college’s prestigious President’s Medal in 2009, the highest award given by the school to an employee.
He’s additionally been active in collegiate and community activities, including serving as team captain for Columbia State’s American Cancer Society Relay for Life, as team leader of the Columbia State Canned Food Drive, as a member and volunteer for the Habitat for Humanity Foundation Board and as a Servant Leader with Maury Hills Church of Christ. In 1987, he was honored by Austin Peay with the Alumni Admissions Service Award and in 2008 he received the Middle Tennessee Kidney Walk Outstanding Fundraising Award, setting a national record for a team by raising $21,400.
“My guiding philosophy, taught me by my mother, has always been service above self, in every aspect of my life,” Flagg said. “Service to God comes first, to my family second and to my vocation and this school third. I feel so fortunate to have been able to have such a wonderful career where I can have an encouraging, positive impact on others. In my mind, it’s all about how many lives you touch.”
“Aubrey truly does represent the values we cherish at First Farmers – integrity, teamwork, commitment, innovation, relationships, community service, and a compassion for others,” Stevens said. “That’s one of the reasons he’s become such an enduring symbol for all that’s right about our community and country and a friend for those around him.”