In 2015, the Mariemont City School District launched the Marie Huenefeld Friend of the School Award to recognize individuals in our community who make significant contributions to the school district with their time, service and/or expertise to create a better experience for district students and make Mariemont City Schools an even better school district.
At the May Mariemont Board of Education meeting, Don Gurney was officially recognized as the 2017 recipient of the Friend of the School Award.
"Don Gurney is a man who works quietly and humbly to support our students, helping them to realize their potential and become not only compassionate students but also compassionate citizens," said Steven Estepp, superintendent of Mariemont City Schools. "He has always been such a positive role model for our students and has a way of connecting with them that is effective and invaluable...Don is just an all-around support for our schools. I think most of us would be hard-pressed to remember a time before Don Gurney was involved with Mariemont City Schools."
Don has advised the Mariemont Elementary Builder's Club for many years as the liaison between the school's Builder's Club and the local Kiwanis. He has also helped with judging the students’ Memorial Day essay entries and with Kiwanis fundraising, which provides scholarship dollars to Mariemont High School students.
He has volunteered during countless school levies, distributing information and providing assistance however and whenever he can, even if it simply means doing something that comes naturally to him – sharing a positive story or anecdote about his experiences with the students.
He is huge supporter of the athletic department, as a regular attendee of the annual Sports Stag as well as countless high school and junior high sporting events to cheer on his grandkids. He has always been very supportive of student athletes and their activities. He was also very involved with the district's athletics Boosters, volunteering his time to solicit memberships and organize the annual golf tournament.
He’s married to his lovely wife, Nancy, and they recently moved to Montgomery, although he plans on staying involved with Mariemont City Schools. Both of their children are Mariemont High School graduates.
"Don is a very caring, genuine, sweet and giving person. He is a devoted member of Kiwanis who spends his time caring and looking out for others," said Ericka Simmons, principal at Mariemont Elementary. "Don is a true example of what it means to serves others and a wonderful role model for our students. He puts his heart into all that he does."
The award was created in honor and recognition of retired Mariemont Board of Education member Marie Huenefeld, who received the inaugural Friend of the School Award. Marie Huenefeld was first elected to the board in November 1987 and served through 2015. Rusty Wilson was the 2016 recipient of the Friend of the School Award.