Pogue was honored earlier this week as one of nine recipients of the Baptist Educators Serving Texans (B.E.S.T.) Award, which honors Christian educators living out their faith among their students. Pogue has been a faithful member of Pioneer Drive Baptist Church his entire life, and it’s the church where he and his wife, Dr. Laura Pogue, raised both of their children, Jamie and Katie, who graduated from Cooper.
Pogue is a highly respected English teacher in the district and has been the Cooper Student Council sponsor for more than 30 years. In 2021, he was selected by Dave Campbell’s Texas Football magazine as one of its “Community Connectors” in recognition of his work as the StuCo sponsor.
During the COVID pandemic in 2020, he and his Student Council members set up and ran a program called “Table 20” to help provide free food to members of the Cooper community in need. For more than two decades, Pogue has taken a group of Cooper students and staff members on a trip to Chinle, Arizona, to provide food, clothing, and other supplies to the people of the Navajo nation. They are already preparing for another trip in February.
Pogue, who graduated from HSU in 1985 with his Bachelor Arts in English and Literature and went on to earn his Master’s in English and Literature from HSU, was presented with the B.E.S.T. Award on Sept. 18, in his classroom by HSU President Eric Bruntmyer. This annual award is given to select Texas Baptist institution graduates who currently serve in faculty or administration roles in the Texas Public School System and are members of a church supportive of the Baptist General Convention of Texas (BGCT). One graduate is selected from each institution.
“I am so honored to be recognized by the BGCT and Hardin-Simmons,” Pogue said. “I learned how to do my job at Hardin-Simmons. I am thankful to Tid McAden and Linda Carleton for leading the Student Congress while I was there and showing me how to build a community of students to serve others. And I’m thankful for the invaluable lessons I learned under a great English faculty … lessons I take into my classroom daily. I strive to make my old professors proud: Dr. Larry Brunner, Dr. Bob Fink, Dr. Delores Washburn, Dr. Lawrence Clayton, Dr. George Vandevender, and Dr. Robert Hamner. I remember their voices, lessons, encouragement … and try to emulate them.”
Pogue – the 2019-20 Edwin and Agnes Jennings Teaching Excellence TLC Secondary Teacher of the Year in the AISD and the Region XIV Secondary Teacher of the Year – said his goal every day is to make a positive impact on his students and the Cooper community.
“Many of (those students) are looking for one teacher to say, ‘That’s my student,’ and I want my students to know that I care more about them than the lesson I’m about to teach,” Pogue said. “I want them to know that I value their opinions and that my classroom is where they can truly be themselves and be happy while learning.
“I also try to honor the ones that have gone before me,” he said. “I think about some of the pillars of Cooper: Robert Holladay, Rose Williams, Mike Thomesen, Sherilyn Hanks, John Gossard, Donna Wise, people who are woven into the fabric of all that Cooper stands for, and I try to honor the passion and dedication that they brought into their classrooms.”
His faith has directed his steps on and off the Cooper campus, and anyone who has seen him in either setting knows it’s an integral part of what makes him tick.
“My faith is simply an outpouring of who I am at my core,” said Pogue, who has also been the “Voice of the Cougars” for Cooper football games for more than 20 years after doing games for both Abilene High and Cooper on the radio and AISD-TV. “I simply try to treat people the way Jesus would have treated them, with dignity, respect, kindness, and love.”