Chaney, together with his parents Eric and Kate, stepped into Kirby’s Strength and Conditioning class at Hawley gym on Tuesday and presented him with a $500 check.
The surprise was part of the classroom scholarship program at Preferred Credit Union.
According to branch manager Megan Valis, for every deposit made by a young member throughout the month of August, the youth’s name was placed into a drawing for the chance to win a classroom scholarship for a teacher of their choosing.
This year’s winner, Chaney, immediately thought of Kirby.
“He has always been a great teacher,” Chaney said on why he chose Kirby. “He is one of the nicest guys I have ever met. He is very supportive and you can tell he really cares about the students and I appreciate that about him.”
Kirby was very humbled and emotional when he was presented with the $500 check on Tuesday.
“I am speechless,” Kirby said as he was fighting back his emotions. “It’s my understanding Connor Chaney was given the opportunity from Preferred Credit Union to nominate me for the scholarship. I am excited to have him help me spend the money on the weight room.”
Kirby said Chaney has an incredible affinity for the weight room and brings an incredible amount of energy to whatever setting he is in.
“I am hoping he might be interested in purchasing an item called a Swiss bar. It’s a special barbell that has many benefits.”
For the past 16 years, Preferred Credit Union has hosted the classroom scholarship program. Ludington, Belding, Grand Rapids, Greenville, Kalamazoo, and Hastings are among the credit union’s locations. The six offices provide $3,000 teacher scholarships that are distributed in the local areas, and they have distributed approximately $48,000 in the last 16 years.
Valis stated that the check is payable to the school and will benefit the instructors’ classroom.
Kate Chaney, who works at the school, said she was honored to be present at the surprise Tuesday because she comes from a family of educators.
“What a wonderful thing for Connor to be able to give back to a teacher that has inspired him,” she said. “Mr. Kirby is very supportive of not only Connor but all of the kids.”