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  1. Meg Anderson

    Thank you for posting Virginia Dean’s thoughtfully written March 2014 article about Mike Gyra. I was thrilled to learn that he was awarded one of the six Kennedy Center Stephen Sondheim Inspirational Teacher Awards in 2014 due to the initiative of his former student, Russell Brillant. (

    Mike was a fun classmate in Woodstock, an attentive and good friend, sometimes a bit of a rascal – without any malice, and an unusually talented basketball player. Many fellow students still remember the anticipation in the gymnasium at the WUHS home basketball game where Mike was likely to score his 1,000th point as varsity player. After he took aim and swished the last necessary ball for the the 1,000th point through the net there was a huge roar as we rose to our feet and whooped and hollered and whistled and clapped with appreciation and jumped up and down on the stands and rushed onto the floor, but the star of the team remained his usual humble and present self when he was honored at mid-court as I remember it. You wanted Mike to succeed because he was so kind to others, yet he had a surprisingly powerful competitive drive due perhaps to being one of eight children in his family, and his determination coupled with imagination and devotion to serving others has driven him to excellence his whole life.

    Frank and Bea Gyra raised eight truly amazing individuals, and the entire family has inspired and delighted me for decades. I was a neighbor in their Linden Hill neighborhood for a few years as a child, and quickly discovered Gyra kids to be full of energy and curiosity and kindness and ideas. They warmly and generously welcomed me in as an only-child close in age to both Mike and Barbie, and I remember dinners at that home as some of the noisiest and most exciting meals of my childhood!

    Mike talked really-really-fast, had a mop of curly hair, and laughed often and loudly with his distinct laugh which made everyone else laugh and brightened up our often stodgy elementary school and high school classrooms. I am smiling as I write this. Like his renowned father before him he is blessed with an overabundance of talent, creativity, and emotional intelligence, and I cannot imagine a better physical science teacher for high school students than Mike Gyra. May he and his wonderful family live long, healthy lives!

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