Beck Receives Distinguished Teaching Award

June 22, 2015


Mr. Vincent Beck

Mr. Vincent Beck

Mr. Vincent Beck accepted the 2015 Distinguished Teaching Award to a standing ovation led by students in Hyde Chapel May 8. It was a spontaneous testament to Beck’s popularity both in Lower School, where he teaches Earth Science, and Upper School, where he teaches Honors Geology, as well as on the soccer field, where he serves as head coach.

Beck, who had just spotted his family two minutes before Headmaster Ellis Haguewood announced the award, held back emotion as he took the podium.

“I’m kind of shocked. My mom and dad just came back from China, and they were supposed to be arriving in Virginia Beach just now,” he said, as he gathered his thoughts.

“I feel very honored, given the faculty that’s here at the school. I can’t say how honored I am to receive this award. Thank you very much to the students here and the students of the past. I look forward to many more years here.”

Lower School Principal Clay Smythe ’85 has witnessed how Beck works to help younger students embrace scientific principles.

“He is compassionate, and he wants the boys to succeed,” Smythe said. “He clearly and thoroughly presents expectations and objectives in what is often the first real content-driven science class for his first-semester seventh graders.”

Beck’s Honors Geology course is a popular science elective, with a curriculum that includes a field trip to Coon Creek Science Center in McNairy County to unearth fossils in the 70-million-year-old environment once covered by a sea. Students return to the lab to extricate fossils and analyze them.

“It’s a great opportunity for students to get out of the classroom and see and experience some real geology,” Beck said.

A soccer player from an early age, Beck grew up in Scotland and studied at Old Dominion University in Norfolk, VA, where he was a three-year starter in soccer and two-year captain, and he earned a degree in geology with emphases in oceanography and geography. He played indoor/outdoor soccer professionally for 12 years. He was named to the All-Star team three times, and served as a player-assistant coach for two years. Earlier in his career he coached high school soccer for boys and girls, including a boys’ team in Tulsa, OK, that won the 1991 state championship.

Joining the faculty to coach soccer and teach science in 1997, Beck led the 1998 squad to the state quarterfinals, and his teams have reached the state tournament every year since. His 2004 team won the state title, and that same year, The Commercial Appeal named Beck the Soccer Coach of the Year.

Upper School Principal Barry Ray said Beck’s dedication to his subject, his sport, but most of all to his students, make him a superior teacher and coach.

“Coach Beck communicates his passion for geology and soccer in such a way that his students and players feel passionate about it, as well.”

Beck, who is married to Laura, has four children, daughters Casey, 24, and Mary, 21, and twin 4-year-old boys, Ethan and Ewan.


The Distinguished Teaching Award
is a permanent endowment fund established in 1990 through a generous bequest by Mr. John Murry Springfield. Springfield joined the Memphis University School faculty in 1958 and served as an instructor in English and mathematics until 1971. From 1971 until his death in August 1989, Springfield served as principal of the Hull Lower School. The monetary award is given annually to an MUS faculty member who demonstrates excellence in both the classroom and extracurricular activities.


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