Blue Bell surprises local Teacher of the Year


By Sarrah Peters, News Editor

On Tuesday, April 24, John S. Jones Elementary students gathered in the school gymnasium for a special treat.

The students and staff were told the treat was for performing well on testing. Earlier this year, The Alabama Department of Education released grades for public schools and school systems statewide, giving each school and system a letter grade for each school’s 2016-2017 performance. John S Jones Elementary received a 92, one of three As recieved in the Etowah County area.

However, Principal Tanya Clark had another reason for the treat – celebrating the accomplishment of a member of the faculty. Second-grade teacher Donna Holderfield was named the District 8 Elementary Teacher of the Year, making her one of 16 finalists for the statewide Alabama Teacher of the Year.

The Alabama State Board of Education will announce the Alabama Teacher of the Year on May 9. The statewide winner will be a candidate for the National Teacher of the Year.

“Highly-skilled, dedicated, and caring teachers are essential to achieving excellence and in preparing our nation’s next generation of outstanding professionals,” read a press release announcing the 16 finalists. “The 16 outstanding educators who have been selected as finalists for Alabama·s 2018-2019 Teacher of the Year exemplify these qualities and more. Each has accomplished great things with the students they mentor, teach and inspire daily. They exemplify teaching at its best.”

To help surprise Holderfield, Blue Bell Territory Manager Perry Davison and Jacob Stone drove from Birmingham withover 800 3-ounce cups of vanilla ice cream, enough for the whole school. After Clark announced that they were receiving ice cream for good test scores, Davison took the microphone.

“At Blue Bell we believe that educating children is one of the most important jobs that someone can have,” said Davison. “I don’t know if you guys know this, but you have a very special teacher here.”

Davison proceeded to call Holderfield to the front, which was met with cheers from the students.

With a look of surprise on her face, Holderfield was awarded a letter from the Blue Bell president, a book on the history of Blue Bell and four half gallon containers of ice cream – one chocolate, one vanilla and two of Pecan Pralines n’ Cream, which is her favorite.

Clark said that Holderfield was “very deserving” of the Teacher of the Year honor, as well as the ice cream surprise.

Afterwards, the students enjoyed the ice cream outdoors or in their classrooms.

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