Chamber hosts education luncheon

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The Chamber of Gadsden and Etowah County hosted its sixth annual Excellence in Education and Teachers of the Year Luncheon on May 11 at 210 at the Tracks.

Teachers from the three public school systems and four private schools in Etowah County were recognized and celebrated.

“I think we can agree education is not glamorous and, oftentimes, educators do not get enough credit or recognition for their hard work,” said Jackie Brehm Edmondson, chairperson of the Excellence in Education Committee and the public relations director at Gadsden State Community College. “Today, we want to recognize our faculty, administrators, support staff and organizations that go above and beyond for the success of our children and the future of our community.”

The luncheon began with the presentation of colors by the Etowah High School Junior ROTC and the singing of the National Anthem by Camilo Vega and the Gadsden State A Cappella Choir.

Awards were presented to the Teachers of the Year. Winners received a hardback journal from Gadsden State, as well as an award featuring original art by K-12 students.

Wes Hall of Eura Brown Elementary School designed the awards for elementary teachers, while Angelina Guest at Southside High School created the awards for secondary teachers.

Cheryl Graves at St James Catholic School was named Private Elementary School Teacher of the Year.

Other private elementary teachers recognized were Emily Crane, Episcopal Day School; Alison Gallman, Coosa Christian; Brandy James, Westbrook Christian; Shane Ellison at Westbrook Christian was named Private Secondary School Teacher of the Year.
Other secondary teachers recognized were Julie Delp, Coosa Christian; and Jeff Lasseter, Episcopal Day School. Overall Teacher of the Year from Attalla City Schools was Mandy Streefkerk at Etowah Middle School. Carolyn Jones at Attalla Elementary School and Caitlin Simons at Etowah High School were recognized as school winners.

Etowah County Schools presented the Overall Elementary Teacher of the Year Award to Amber Works at John Jones Elementary School and Overall Secondary Teacher of the Year Award to Taylor Talbot at Glencoe Middle School.

Other teachers recognized were Lisa Farrell, Carlisle Elementary School; Samantha Chamblee, Duck Springs Elementary School; Kimberly Jacobs, Gaston Elementary School; Ashley Keenum, Gaston High School; Jordan Dyess, Glencoe Elementary School; Jamie Barkley, Glencoe High School; Jakea Player, Highland Elementary School; Donna Walker, Hokes Bluff Elementary School; Connie Clark, Hokes Bluff Middle School; Nick Staff, Hokes Bluff High School; Amanda Long, Ivalee Elementary School; Jennifer Kilgo, Rainbow Middle School; Christa Hill, Sardis Middle School; Kasey Roberts, Sardis High School; Allison Williams, Southside Elementary School; Zane Smith, Southside High School; Kay Jackson, West End Elementary School; Brittany Owens, West End High School; Pam Naylor, Whitesboro Elementary School; Ashley Strawderman, Etowah County Career Tech Center; and Carrie Handley, Special Education Learning Center.

Gadsden City Schools recognized Annalisa Brewster at Mitchell Elementary School as the Overall Elementary Teacher of the Year and Gerii Jackson at Emma Sansom Middle School as Overall Secondary Teacher of the Year.

Also recognized were Jackie Isom, Adams Elementary School; Amy Pippin, Donehoo Elementary School; Erin Deck, Eura Brown Elementary School; Gina Walls, Floyd Elementary School; Lesley Guthrie, Gadsden Middle School; Angela Jones, Gadsden City High School; Blake Hall, Litchfield Middle School; Jerresa McGee, Striplin Elementary School; Blake Smith, Thompson Elementary School; and Rachel Westcott, Walnut Park Elementary School.

Shannon Vervynckt of Glencoe Elementary School was recognized for being a national board-certified teacher in literacy: reading and language arts for early and middle childhood.

“The National Board certification is a rigorous and thorough process that a teacher can go through that is completely voluntary,” said Christi Robinson, President and CEO of The Chamber. “Shannon is to be commended for her commitment to professional development.”

Awards were presented in various categories for the Excellence in Education Awards. These teachers were evaluated by the Excellence in Education Committee members who chose teachers that were “particularly excellent.”

The awards and their respective winners were
• Excellence in Student Empowerment: Wesley Gulledge at Attalla City Schools
• Excellence in Innovative Teaching: Tiffany Ford at Etowah County Schools
• Excellence in Mental Health Services: Gadsden City Schools Mental Health Team represented by Stephanie Bowley, Keana Howze, Steven Jones and Taja Underwood
• Excellence in Citizenship: Allison Heald at Southside High School
• Exceptional Student Award for K-12: Nonie Heald at Southside Elementary School
• Excellence in Veterans Services: Veterans Upward Bound at Gadsden State Community College represented by Linda Morris
• Excellence in Community Outreach: Cocky Counts at Jacksonville State University represented by Barbie Norvell, Connie Stancil and Aimee Weathers
• Excellence in Special Education: Sunshine Crew at Oscar Adams Elementary School represented by Brooke Cash, Madison Pate, Becca Rhea, Shauna Veal and Fatima Wise
• Excellence in Adult Education: Catherine Truelove at the Gadsden Job Corps
• Excellence in Educational Advancement: Diana Hilton at Gadsden City Schools
• Excellence in Early Childhood Education: Pre-K Program at Glencoe Elementary represented by Jordan Dyess
• Excellence in Creative Learning: Becca Gardner at the Windy Van Hooten Teaching Garden
• Excellence in Educational Exploration: Christie Pickard at Oscar Adams Elementary School
• Excellence in Career Technical Education: The Bluff Café and Company, a project created by Mara Mattison at Hokes Bluff High School
• Excellence in Student Engagement: Carol Gaskin at Mitchell Elementary School
• Excellence in Science Education: Tammy Basaraba at Etowah Middle School
• Excellence in Special Education Instruction: Emily Day at Gadsden City High School
• Excellence in Administration for K-12: Dena Cook at Etowah County School Systems
• Heart of an Educator Award: Tabitha Bozeman at Gadsden State Community College
• Lifetime Achievement Award: Dr. Cynthia McCarty at Jacksonville State University

“Thank you all for taking the time out of your day to be here to support your fellow educators and those working in education,” Robinson said to the crowd of educators, administrators and community supporters. “Without the work of all of our school systems, we would not have future leaders, a dedicated workforce or owners of businesses and companies. It starts with you, and we are so thankful.”

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