By Alan Burke
---- — PEABODY — No one yet knows what the George Peabody Legacy Award will look like — but we know who’s going to get it.
Six names were released at Thursday’s City Council meeting, the first people honored with what is planned as an annual award for having a positive impact on education in the city of Peabody.
“It’s the beginning of a hall of fame for educators and philanthropists,” said David Gravel, a member of the Peabody Education Foundation, which is sponsoring the award.
“It’s to recognize those who have given most of their adult lives to educating the citizens of Peabody,” City Council President Tom Gould said. “These people had a real impact.”
The awards will be formally presented at a City Hall event on May 2. By then, Gravel indicates, the trophy or plaque will be decided on. The honorees will also be saluted in a video, and their names will be placed on a board at the high school.
In addition, a citation from the George Peabody Trust in London will also be presented. Peabody made generous donations to help working-class people in London obtain housing. He spent the latter years of his life in the United Kingdom.
The 19th-century millionaire philanthropist, who was born here, is considered the ideal symbol for the Legacy Award. Peabody considered education the key to a better life, and he gave away much of his fortune, concentrating the money on teaching institutions, like the Peabody Institute Library here and various schools and libraries across the country.
Among those named to receive the Legacy Award are people with long records in the Peabody Public Schools. John E. Murtagh was a longtime Peabody teacher and administrator who finished his career as the principal of Higgins Middle School. John “Jack” Murtagh, known as “Big Jack,” also went from teaching to the principal job at Kiley School.
Helen Apostolides worked in the schools for 34 years before finishing as principal of Welch School. Frank Hardy retired from the schools as a department head, having brought back the concept of Student Government Day. Tom Hosman became a guidance counselor in his 38 years in the schools, making a difference at the Kennedy, Higgins and high schools.
James Geanoulis, whose award is given posthumously, was known affectionately as “Mr. G” while both teaching in the Peabody schools and coaching baseball, basketball and soccer.
The award winners were chosen from a list of nominees.