The Muscogee Educational Excellence Foundation announced Thursday the three finalists for the 2013 Muscogee County School District Teacher of the Year award:
Brenda Howell, Hardaway High School, environmental science, forensic science.
Ellen Lane, Gentian Elementary, fifth grade
Kim Lester, Britt David Magnet Academy, fifth grade.
The foundation's selection committee chose the finalists after interviewing the 10 semifinalists out of 59 applicants, who were nominated by their respective schools. Committee members will observe the finalists while they teach in their classrooms, and the winner will be announced at the foundation's annual gala, May 2 in the Columbus Convention & Trade Center.
Janet Davis (TIC Federal Credit Union) is chairwoman of the selection committee. The other members are Travis Chambers (ERA Elite Ventures Realty), Tom Titus (retired from Columbus Regional Healthcare System), Tom Hackett (Columbus State University), Debbie Caballero (Girl Scouts, Partners in Education), Colby Cardin (Columbus Bank and Trust) and past Teacher of the Year winners Debra Everett (Spencer High), Christine Powell (Northside High) and Paul Hampton (Columbus High).
Interviewing the semifinalists was a joy, Davis said, but it was mighty tough picking the finalists.
"Any of the top 10 could represent Muscogee County in an excellent way," said Davis, president of TIC.
The finalists have demonstrated several common traits, she said: They don't let budget cuts curtail creative instruction; they effectively utilize technology; they embrace diversity and bridge differences; and they model community involvement and teach it to their students.
"As a business leader, to see how much these teachers are committed to these children, it's very rewarding," Davis said. "I've been so blessed by seeing the character of these teachers."
The other semifinalists were:
Ronda Allen, Arnold Magnet Academy, language arts
Benjamin Foust, St. Elmo Center for the Gifted, creativity
Christy Grigsby, Early College Academy, English/language arts
Stephanie Marley, Brewer Elementary School, kindergarten
Rodolfo Perez, Baker Middle School, special education
Jennifer Sappington, Northside High School, civics, U.S. history and world history
Carol Wink, Clubview Elementary School, physical education.
The foundation is a nonprofit organization that has awarded more than $1.5 million in 18 years to innovative teachers through Teacher of the Year, grants, an endowment fund and professional development at the Harvard Graduate School of Education.GALA TICKETS
The Muscogee Educational Excellence Foundation's gala announcing the 2013 Muscogee County School District Teacher of the Year and honoring the 59 nominees is open to the public. The $35 tickets for the May 2 event in the Columbus Convention & Trade Center will be on sale at the Springer Opera House box office April 15-26. For more information about the gala, call Media, Marketing and More at 706-660-9702.