Judging of Woodie Flowers Award

I can’t agree more. Every WFA recipient I’ve ever seen has been truly deserving. I think it’s really the one award that is never up for argument afterwards. No matter who the judges pick, it’s hard to go wrong. There are just too many outstanding mentors in FIRST who deserve to be recognized. Judges: keep up the good work! :slight_smile:

There are so many deserving individuals out there that really deserve that award…im thrilled to see the addition of the regional WFA. These mentors give up a lot to help high school, college students, and even other mentors find and push their full potential. Kudos to the WFA! :slight_smile:

I’m sure there a lot of people who know exactly how you feel Joe. They just aren’t willing to admit it in front of everyone. The Woodie Flowers award is supposed to go to a selfless individual who mentors others. But at the same time why shouldn’t you hope you win it?

FIRST mentors seem too humble to me. They stand up and receive their award and say, “Oh my, this is too much, I don’t deserve this.” I want to see someone stand up and yell, “YEA! it’s about time!, I worked my butt off all these years and I finally got mine, HAHA!”

It’s a paradox, you are giving credit to someone for doing something special. But the reason it is so special is because they aren’t getting credit for it. Sometimes you just have to admit that you worked hard and you deserve it.


Thank you for posting your feelings about this award. Personally, I often look to you as a mentor and feel that you should be recognized with this award.

At the same time, I have MUCH to say about this award. It was an honor to be involved in this process, and I would like to post some insight and put some challenges out to the FIRST community with regard to this award.

I will do this in another post.

Our hats are off to you, Joe. Your feelings are shared by many, I am sure.

Andy B.

This question may be slightly off topic, but I’ll try it out anyways. Recently I was having a discussion about the Regional Woodie Flowers Award. This year 26 people were honored with this distinction, and given a chance to compete for the National award. Next year, can these same fine mentors win a Regional WFA again? If not, would 2004 regional honorees be considered for the 2005 National award?

I like the idea of honoring 26+ new individuals next year, but at the same time I would like it if the remaining 25 Regional WFA winners could still be eligible for the 2005 big prize. But considering what an exhaustive process exists to determine a winner, having the judges go through 51+ applications instead of 26+ seems a bit too arduous.

Any thoughts?

It was an honor to be involved in the judging process for this year’s Woodie Flowers Finalist Awards and the Woodie Flowers Award. It was an eye opening experience :yikes:. The committee is a group of amazing people. We all got along fabulously and became friends in the process.

Here are some interesting facts from this past year:

  1. Only 21% of FIRST teams nominated a candidate.
  2. Some regionals had as many as 13 candidates.
  3. One regional had only 3 candidates and a few others had only 4.
  4. Nominators need to learn how to spell Woodie’s name correctly.
  5. Nominators need to stick to an essay format.
  6. Nominators should target 600 words. Some were 300 words, some were 800. Short essays equated with weak efforts and long essays were a distraction to the judges.
  7. Some nominators did a good job of profiling their mentor, but gave no information about their communication skills (for example: “our mentor stays at the shop later than anyone else, that is why they deserve the WFA”). It is not unique to have a mentor stay late.
  8. Student nominators can and should get help from the other mentors on the teams. While the rules require the students to write and facilitate the entry, they can have as many adults proof their essay as they wish.
  9. Student nominators should not procrastinate. The entry deadline is there for a reason, so the nominator can include the experience of the entire build season to profile their mentor.
  10. Students should choose whom to nominate and not listen to certain mentors who say “don’t nominate me!” Sadly, this happens too often. Certain mentors need to just accept the praise from their team’s students.
  11. Students should use this essay as an award to their mentor, even if their chosen candidate does not win at a Regional. Surprisingly, 700 teams missed a chance to give something back to one mentor on their team.
  12. Longevity was a consideration. Being a stellar mentor for 10 years is different than being a stellar mentor for 1 year.
  13. We all realized that there are MANY people who are doing great things in FIRST, and many of us don’t even know their name. I was going to post an example, but there are too many.
  14. Most importantly, Dr. Murphy directed the judging crew to equally grade the student nominator’s writing skills with the mentoring and communication skills of the candidate. He was adamant about this, and it directed each of our decisions.

It was a difficult process. There were 8 judges involved. Each regional had 2 main judges and 1 tiebreaker judge. For some of the regionals, all of the judges had input, since many of the choices were not easy. I am not going to go into the details of which regionals had which judges or which regionals had X amount of entries.

Speaking on behalf of the WFA committee, we are open to ideas and suggestions. This was our first year doing this and we realize that not everything was perfect. We have already heard some suggestions, and we welcome more.

Thank you,
Andy Baker

/edit - Just saw Karthik’s similar post - but read me anyway, for I mention the chairman’s award as well/

I agree that the regional WFA is a good idea, as is the regional Charman’s award. But it seems wrong to make the current year’s regional chairman’s and WFA award winners the only ones eligible for the championship honors.

The Chairman’s and WFA are both like lifetime achievement awards. It makes sense from FIRST’s point of view that the teams that win the CA at the regional are the teams that the national CA winner should be picked from. The winner will be the proverbial best of the best.

From the regional’s point of view, however, it doesn’t make any sense at all to pick the same team for the Chairman’s award, or mentor for the WFA year after year, even if the team or mentor is still a dynamo. It makes more sense from the regional judges’ points of view to spread these awards around, to be able to recognize all of the deserving teams and mentors.

The rub is that the team or mentor each regional “sends” to nationals to compete for the CA or WFA might not be the team or mentor from the regional that has the best chance of winning at nationals.

Fortunately, this problem has an easy solution. All we have to do is allow a team that has won a regional chairman’s award in the last three or five (or whatever number is decided to be within the judge’s workload) years to compete for the national CA. Allow any past regional WFA winner who is nominated again to compete for the national award.

What do you think?

so did the same committee judge for every regional?

this is the first year that I have helped write the WFA nomination for our team. thank you to Andy for posting the tips on how to make our nominations better for next year. thanks to joe j…you’ll get yours someday…

also…there is the IRI Mentor of the Year Award…begin working on nominations now…and good luck.

Karthik, I never was completely clear about what you were proposing. Are you suggesting a two-year period of eligibility, or an eternal one, comparable to the eternal eligibility of professional sports players when they retire for the Hall of Fame? Because if that’s the case, the current committee, which only gets a bit bigger every year, would have a nightmare doing its job fairly. In 2006, there would be nearly 80 entries to consider, and the list would just get bigger. I personally think it hits home much better if someone is honoured in more than one year for the regional award (which is possible, and encouraged). Is that fair to other people that are in the running if someone wins twice? I think it is, or at least, as fair as it can be.


I guess there’s a lot of push and pull involved. On one hand, I’d like to see as many people get recognized, on the other hand I want to see the best person win the grand prize. I understand the logistical nightmare of judging 80+ submissions, but then again wasn’t this the procedure before this year?

I’m not against the idea of the same person winning the award year after year, but it would be nice if we could recognize new people.

It’s a toughie…

After speaking to a previous WF winner I was told to make sure that the regional winner was submitted again. It is possible that he/she could win again. If you read Andy Bakers post, you will notice that a lot of things are taken into account. One of which is how well the essay is written. You will also note that there were 3 judges per regional. These may or may not be the same judges year after year.

I guess what I am saying is that if the students care enough to write a great essay, the mentor continues with the work he has been doing or even becomes better at it, then why shouldn’t they win multiple times or until they win the Championship WF Award. These mentors are selfless people. They care more about FIRST than about personal glory. Do they want to win? Every person is different but I do believe that every one of them are touched when they find that the students have taken time to nominate them.

What Karthik is trying to get at is: If you win at a regional this year, instead of re-entering and winning next year, why not just stay in the running for next year and give someone else the chance to win at the regional level.

The problem is, if your mentor took 2nd place this year at nats, they have a very good chance of winning next year. Do you re-enter them at the regional level and let them win it again?

By offering this award at regionals they are attempting to recognize more people. But if the same people win it at the same regionals every year it completely defeats the purpose. Why not just leave the regional winners in the running for a two or three years and then make then re-enter. If you ask a mentor who won at a regional if they would like to be re-entered next year and take it away from another deserving mentor what do you think they would say?

Wow. The thoughts and ideas in this are as genuine and helpful as any I have ever read on CD. Andy, thanks for sharing your thoughts and insights. I’d like to add to two of your thoughts:

  1. Only 21% of FIRST teams nominated a candidate.
    Every team has to have at least one worthy mentor. Let’s read those winning essays in this thread and get inspired to increase that percentage for next year!

  2. Students should use this essay as an award to their mentor, even if their chosen candidate does not win at a Regional. Surprisingly, 700 teams missed a chance to give something back to one mentor on their team.
    In 2003, before the regional award was created, our students decided to make a gift of the entry to Dave Beck because they didn’t want an opportunity to go by to say “thank you”. I had the pleasure of creating a custom frame to include the essay and all student team members’ names. One of our senior essay writers wrapped it, packed it, and took it to Houston. At our last team meeting in the hotel Friday night the students presented it to Dave, taking turns reading from another copy while he read along with his. There wasn’t a dry eye in the room. I know winning the 2004 NJ Regional WFA was a precious moment for Dave, but I also know that the moment he had with the team in Houston in 2003 was priceless and ALL teams have the ability to make that happen every year.

I also want to say that the online process for the WFA Entry was the most effective and efficient of all online award submission this year. Thank you Brandon and Dvid Kelly! It was so user friendly that many of us have suggested that the online Chairman’s entries need to look like the online WFA process. FIRST has heard these requests and is already working on making this happen.

In short, the WFA committee and the WFA award recipients are some of the most effective and deserving people in FIRST.

Rich, thats the 2nd time you’ve made that mistake in the last 2 weeks, it was David Kelly, not me :stuck_out_tongue:

Baker: No insulting comments now :stuck_out_tongue:

I am glad that they started Regional WFAs. Otherwise, with 929 teams (more as I write) there are TOO MANY DESERVING MENTORS. I like ALL mentors on my team, even if they are sometimes mean or concieted (most are NOT), because they give so much to the program. For the most part, winning mentors have a combination of an amiable personality, an encylcopedia of knowledge, and a great will to inspire kids in science and technology. I would personally like to congratulate the winner David Kelso (even though I didn’t know him), as well as all the regional winners (no favorites, but Especially Mr. Noble. I know him a little bit, and I know the Huge contributions he made to 461, especially considering electronics). And in response to Joe Johnson, I would also like to win that award some day :smiley: .

I love the edit button.
It was a pleasure meeting you in Atlanta and it’s not a mistake thanking you for raising the bar and informing the public (along with that other guy) about the whole WFA process.

I cannot agree with you more! (Mea Culpa, Mea Culpa) The Woodie Flower’s Award is important in that it tells us we are doing a good job. I consider myself blessed to know or have met most of the recipients. To be close to this group and discuss FIRST issues with them, is one of the treasures of being involved as an adult. I would also like to comment on the recent practice of having previous recipients present during the award ceremony. It must add an incredible emotion to an already charged ceremony. It reminds me of Eagle Scout ceremonies, where all Eagle scouts in the audience are asked to congratulate the newest member of the group.
I, like you, are in awe that each year’s winner is so deserving. I can remember the emotion I felt when Andy Baker was announced last year, and how great it felt to know Andy and many people on his team. My only thought was to get a chance to congratulate him as soon as I could. I hope one day to do the same for you and any of the fifty others I can think of right now who are deserving.

I too am in awe of the WFA recipents at both the regional and national level.
It is fantastic to read and hear the stories and learn the impact these individuals are having on their students and their community.

As a relative newcomer (3 years and counting) to FIRST, I find it incredible that so many mentors have been involved for 10 years or more, often on several teams and in several capacities.

I hope the Regional WFA process continues, with that group of 26+ then being eligible for the National award. I also think it is great that previous WFA recipients announce the Regional recipient.

Liz Calef read Dave Beck’s announcement in NJ. The fact that Dave is a teacher and Liz was the first teacher to win the award was awesome.

I’ll also add a little tidbit I learned form Andy Baker in Atlanta. A few members of the WFA committee fought hard for the regional awards to be announced on Friday at the awards ceremony instead of Saturday. Reason? So that individual could spend all of Saturday being congratulated. Bravo!

Giving credit where it is due, JVN came up with this idea. Last fall, I polled a few people for suggestions about this process (Steve Shade, John, Jason Morrella, etc.) and John had this idea. So, he’s more than just a pretty face. :slight_smile:

At one of the regionals (Sacramento), they postponed announcing the winner until Saturday because Steve’s family and co-workers were not attending on Friday.

Andy B.