December 14, 2018
Cy-Fair High School speech and debate director Perry Beard talks to students during class Dec. 14. The longtime educator received a Fourth Diamond Award for excellence in coaching from the National Speech & Debate Association. Each diamond is achieved progressively with a fourth awarded after a coach’s students have earned at least 100,000 points and that teacher has continued coaching for a minimum of 20 years. Beard accomplished these milestones in October. (Photo by Lilla Mixon, Cy-Fair HS)
Dec. 14, 2018—Perry Beard, the Cy-Fair High School speech and debate director, has received a Fourth Diamond Award for excellence in coaching from the National Speech & Debate Association (NSDA).
“Less than half a percent of all coaches in the history of the organization have received four diamonds,” said Deano Pape, NSDA membership specialist.
Diamond awards denote professional careers that combine excellence with longevity in NSDA, which is the honor society for speech and debate. It gives points to students for their tournament participation and a coach earns a diamond award based on student success and commitment to speech and debate education over time.
Each diamond is achieved progressively with the fourth awarded after a coach’s students have earned at least 100,000 points and that teacher has continued coaching for a minimum of 20 years. Beard accomplished these milestones in October.
Additionally, the NSDA bestowed upon Beard its Distinguished Service Gold Key for his efforts in furthering the activity beyond his own program.
“What Mr. Beard has achieved is highly significant,” said Stacy McGee, CFISD curriculum coach for debate. “To receive even a single diamond is the mark of a committed and talented teacher, but earning your fourth designates an exceptional level of dedication and knowledge of the craft.
“Mr. Beard’s service award is also very well-deserved. He volunteers his expertise to help run tournaments throughout Houston so that these learning opportunities are available to students across the city. He is somebody new and veteran teachers alike can rely upon to step up whenever his assistance is needed. He has been tireless in giving back to an activity that he once participated in himself when he was a student. CFISD is proud to see him recognized for his lifelong contributions to speech and debate.”
Some of Beard’s service activities include volunteering as the former vice president of the Texas Forensic Association, the state organization that governs speech and debate competition; presenting educational workshops for students and teachers at summer institutes and professional conferences; and serving on the leadership committee that oversees the Space City NSDA District, which runs the regional qualifiers that determine which students will advance to the NSDA National Championship each June.
Beard will be honored during this championship in 2019 at its Diamond Award ceremony in Dallas, where more than 5,000 students, teachers and parents are expected to attend.
“Mr. Beard is a teacher who challenges his students to be the best they can be,” said Tess Welch, who competed for the Cy-Fair debate team from 2014-2018 before graduating in May. “Through Mr. Beard’s coaching, I was able to get a full ride to go to college. He cares about his students and has a great deal of enthusiasm for their personal and academic improvement.”
Another former student, Jacob Koshak, chose to follow in Beard’s footsteps by entering the teaching profession and becoming the debate coach at Cypress Woods High school.
“He made debate incredibly fun and engaging, inspiring me to continue in debate as an activity and a career,” Koshak said about Beard. “I am incredibly indebted to the sacrifices that he made for us and the time that he took to make debate an experience that was life-changing.”