BY JASMINE WILLIAMS
WEAKLEY COUNTY (October 7) – Teachers in the Weakley County School System were recently recognized by the Weakley County Board of Education as system-wide Teachers of the Year. Teachers in all schools voted for who should be named Teacher of the Year and in May the board named teachers from each school and grade level during its monthly meeting. On Wednesday, October 7, Instructional Supervisors Terri Stephenson and Donald Ray High visited each honoree to present them with certificates and cookies to celebrate their achievements.
Those who were named include Alyssa Bynum of Dresden Elementary School; Katie West of Dresden Middle School; Jacob Abbott of Dresden High School; Sherri Brawner, Amy Orr and Jessica Collins of Gleason School; Jane Mitchell, Anna Bryant and Linda Farmer of Greenfield School; April Fishel and Robin Pape of Martin Elementary School; Lauren Campbell of Martin Primary School; Becky Mullins of Martin Middle School; Kimberly Elliott of Westview High School; and Kristi Parsley and Tori Shepherd of Sharon School.
Some teachers commented on what being named Teacher of the Year means to them and why they wanted to become a teacher in the first place.
Sherri Brawner teaches Pre-K at Gleason School, she has been teaching for 14 years at Gleason and 27 years in the state of Tennessee. When she found out she had won the award based on her co-workers’ votes, she felt very honored. One of her main philosophies of teaching is, “I believe that each child has the ability to succeed, but each child learns and develops at his/her own rate. Children must be met at the beginning and challenged, even at four years old, and taught with a hands-on approach with most of the learning being play-based. Each child shows growth differently and has varying learning styles, but it has been proven that learning through play is the most effective. I believe in each child having a positive learning environment and each child should be given the tools necessary to provide a quality pre-k experience.” She went on to say that she is proud of the accomplishments that the Pre-K program in Weakley County has been able to make. Brawner also said that being a teacher was a dream of hers since the third grade and that she loved making a difference in the lives of children.
Lauren Campbell is a teacher at Martin Primary School and has been teaching for nine years. She has been at Martin Primary since 2012. She taught first grade for two years before moving to kindergarten in 2014. Campbell always enjoyed school and her teachers growing up and wanted to become that same positive influence for other young children. She said that being a teacher is very rewarding as she is able to help lay the foundation for her students. While teaching, Campbell is also the kindergarten grade chair and member of the Data team.
Teaching for 11 years and at Dresden High School since 2016, Jacob Abbott teaches music, theatre and vocal. He felt very honored to be awarded this title and felt it gave validation for teachers all over the county teaching in the arts. Growing up, Abbott had many teachers who helped him want to become a teacher but his mother, a special education teacher, was his greatest influence. Abbott noted, “Even on the worst days, I cannot imagine going to any other job for the rest of my life. I truly believe I was born to be a teacher.”
Teaching for 15 years, Linda Farmer is a teacher at Greenfield High School. She teaches many math classes to students and is a co-sponsor of the Beta Club, an ACT test coordinator, and on the data/RTI team. Farmer has always enjoyed helping others to learn and sharing her knowledge of a given subject. She was very honored with being given this award and said this on being a teacher, “A teacher should be a good role model for students as an example of high character and diligence and should always demonstrate care and respect towards each student.”
Kimberly Elliott is currently in her 22nd year of teaching is at Westview High School, where she teaches many career-based courses and is the advisor for FBLA (Future Business Leaders of America). She teaches many business and marketing classes that students could need in their future career paths. She said that being named Teacher of the Year for Westview is an incredible honor as she teaches less students than other academic-based teachers. Elliott also said, “As a teacher we touch lives in a variety of ways — myself, I am a homebound teacher for our teenage mothers, summer school teacher for those who need remediation, a business teacher for those who are interested in the field or just happen to need an elective credit and they liked the name of the class. Weakley County teachers all work to better their students one child at a time with the tools each of us bring to our classrooms; oftentimes, it a simple smile, hug or ear to listen that molds teachers into great teachers.”
For photos of teachers of the year, visit Weakley County Schools’ Facebook page. Additional information may be found online at weakleyschools.com.