NEIGHBORS>> Roasted and Toasted
BY SARA GREENE
Leader staff writer
You might be Jane Balgavy if you’re the guest of honor at the 10th annual Cabot Scholarship Foundation Roast and Toast.
Don Elliot, chairman of the Cabot Scholarship Foundation, said there was between 250-300 people at the dinner featuring good-natured fun-poking at Balgavy, director of forensics, theatre and debate at Cabot Public Schools.
The Roast and Toast is the premiere fund-raising event for the Cabot Scholarship Foundation, aside from endowments throughout the year from businesses and individuals. Elliot said it would be next week before the foundation knows how much it raised at the event.
Brooks Nash, Balgavy’s former principal, donned a rubber chicken themed tie for the event and called Balgavy a “living legend.”
Armed with his “Balgavy Mess Up Book” Nash took a cue from Jeff Foxworthy’s “You Might be a Redneck” comedy routine and had the crowd roaring with “You Might be Jane Balgavy.”
“You might be Jane Balgavy if you’ve ever passed out in front of your class from low blood sugar and they didn’t report it because they thought you were doing a solo dramatic presentation,” Nash said.
“You might be Jane Balgavy, if you take three teachers to Sonic Drive Inn and claim it as teacher in-service.”
He also zinged Balgavy for having a pizza delivered to her during a faculty meeting and bringing her son Hayden to school without shoes.
Cabot drama teacher Ashley McMahan joked that Balgavy was going to be a fashion designer until she realized she just had one outfit, holding up a denim shirt and jeans, Balgavy’s signature look.
McMahan’s voice cracked with emotion as she read a letter from former student, Heath Hanson, who is currently in Thailand working for Greenpeace.
“At the end of the day, you regret the things you didn’t do much more than the things you did do. You were the only adult who never let me down,” Hanson wrote about Balgavy.
Another former student, Joy Sims Brown, who now works for Sony Music in New York, praised her teacher for years of support and retold the account of her passing out from low-blood sugar during forensics. Balgavy’s husband, John, joked about his wife going into a trance whenever two or more numbers are mentioned in the same sentence and her lack of time-management skills.
“There’s two time zones, Central Standard Time and Jane Time. Growing up, I was taught being on time meant being 15 minutes early. Jane runs 15 minutes to three hours late. You’re lucky if she shows up at all” he said.
“But if she’s late, chances are she’s helping a friend or a student. She draws out the good in people and if the school made her work twice as hard for half as much, she would.”
Balgavy said she was honored to be the roastee for the event and paraphrased a sign in her home.
“I have the perfect cast, I just don’t understand the plot sometimes. Teaching is the best job ever because everyday I get to work with children and it’s rewarding to watch them grow throughout the years,” she said.
Past roastees have included Miss Arkansas 2003 Whitney Kirk, J. M. Park, Jack Carrington, Mike Malham Jr., Del Medlin, Dewey Faught, Joe Allman, Joe Trusty and William Kehler.
Balgavy began teaching at Cabot in 1991. She has a BSE and a double major in Speech/Theatre and English from the University of Central Arkansas in Conway. She has a MSE in gifted and talented education. She has directed Cabot musical productions such as “Little Shop of Horrors,” “Oklahoma,” “Grease,” “Guys and Dolls,” “West Side Story,” and currently, “The Wiz.” The Balgavys live in Cabot and have a son Hayden, 14.