Compiled by The Bedford Citizen
Citizen of the Year Ralph Hammond was honored last night with a reception in the Great Room at Old Town Hall.
Among several speeches made in Hammond’s honor during the reception, Selectman Margot Fleischman delivered the following encomium:
Upon being told of this honor, Ralph Hammond’s first reaction was that some mistake must have been made. Humble as always, he felt that there were certainly many other residents far more deserving of the recognition than he. Ralph – I think all of us in this room tonight respectfully disagree!
Ralph is a life-long resident of Bedford, a 1963 graduate of Bedford High School and a life-long educator. Ralph served the Bedford Public Schools from 1969 to 1995, first as a classroom teacher, then Vice Principal of Center School, and Principal at Lane and Davis elementary schools. He served as the first director of computer education, supervised student teachers through Boston College, taught math education classes through Lesley University, and computer education classes through Fitchburg State College
Throughout his life, Ralph has believed that “learning through sharing and teamwork is what makes learning and life fun, effective and meaningful.” During his career with the Bedford Public Schools he was involved with many projects which were both meaningful and effective, and continue to touch lives today:
In 1971, as part of a unit about government, the students of Ralph’s 5th grade class presented two articles at the Annual Town Meeting funding the reuse of the town owned railroad beds as bicycle paths. In 1974, Ralph introduced 6th graders in Bedford to the Nature’s Classroom, a week-long camping experience. Beginning in 1978 – with much help from community volunteers – Ralph launched the first computer education program at the elementary level. Ralph was also instrumental in bringing the Invent America program to Lane School. This program inspired creative thinking and fantastic inventions by students, and under his direction, Davis School became the first school in the system to have Internet access in every classroom in 1994.
In service to the wider community, Ralph has been a member of the Rotary Club of Bedford since 1990, serving as club president in 1994-1995. Ralph was International Service Director from 1995–1998 and has been District and International Grant Coordinator since 1997. In 2001-2002, he presided as Governor of Rotary International District 7910, Central Massachusetts. He chaired the district Polio Eradication fundraising campaign and was involved with the training of Rotary Club presidents in the northeastern United States.
Ralph has traveled to 20 nations, and served on the board of Hands In Outreach for the education of Tibetan and Nepalese children. Ralph and his wife, Jean hosted a high school Rotary exchange student from Germany who later became a graduate student at Harvard and then a professor in a German university. The Hammonds also supported the education of a child in Nepal, who later came to the US to earn an associate degree in dental assistance at Middlesex Community College, a BA at Mount Holyoke College, then returned to Kathmandu and works today in a dental clinic there.
Ralph continues work as a volunteer international literacy consultant, appointed to the Rotary International Literacy-Numeracy Task Force, charged with promoting literacy in developing nations with Rotary’s low cost literacy methodology, Concentrated Language Encounter. In the 1990s, Ralph trained teachers in Nepal while a guest lecturer at universities in Kathmandu and in Damauli, and with Ralph’s help, interest in CLE has also grown locally in the city of Lawrence.
A dedicated volunteer, Ralph has been a member of the Bedford Arbor Resources Committee, the Bedford Bicycle Advisory Council, Trails Committee, and the Transportation Advisory Committee – all with the focus to help the residents to enjoy Bedford as a more bikeable and walkable community. Ralph is also a River Steward, a Job Lane House trustee, and a volunteer driver for Angel Flights. Ralph and Jean serve as Bedford Land Stewards and they have been involved with the fight against cancer through the Pan Mass Challenge for the past ten years. For the last five years Ralph has volunteered with the hospice unit at the VA Hospital in Bedford.
Ralph has said that he is honored to be citizen of the year, but more importantly Citizen of the Year of Bedford. We are privileged to call Ralph many things – distinguished son of Bedford, humanitarian, teacher and friend to many, and tonight, Bedford’s 2013 Citizen of the Year.