The field for the Muscogee County School District's 2015 Teacher of the Year award was cut from 56 to 10 Thursday.
The Muscogee Educational Excellence Foundation, which conducts the district's Teacher of the Year program, announced the following semifinalists:
Pagianna Boykin, Dorothy Height Elementary School, fourth-grade math
Oliver Ellis, Fort Middle School, seventh-grade science
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Sheryl Green, Jordan High School, 10th-grade English and literature
Isiah Harper, Northside High School, theater
Beth Horner, Downtown Elementary Magnet Academy, kingergarten
Karen McDavid, Midland Academy, third grade
Jeffrey Pearce, Columbus High School, chemistry and physics
Lynn Robertson, Aaron Cohn Middle School, seventh-grade science
Ebony Robinson, North Columbus Elementary School, third grade
Aleatha Thrush, Britt David Magnet Academy, art
Carole Rutland, retired executive director of the Columbus State University Coca-Cola Space Science Center, is chairwoman of the foundation's Teacher of the Year selection committee, which determined the semifinalists by assessing the applications of the nominees, one from each school. She explained to the Ledger-Enquirer what stands out about these semifinalists.
"They look for innovative ways to present new and difficult concepts," Rutland said. They also motivate their students to continue the learning at home by giving them ways to share it with their families and friends, she said.
The semifinalists utilize test scores well in "data-driven classrooms filled with purposeful activities," Rutland said.
"They know exactly where their students rank at the beginning of the year," she said, "and they know where they want to take them."
These teachers create "exploration extravaganzas, changing all the time and challenging their students," Rutland said.
And they impressed the committee, she said, with their answer to the question about what they would do if they were Teacher of the Year and what message they would deliver to the community.
The committee will interview the semifinalists to choose three finalists. Then committee members will observe the finalists teaching in their classrooms to select the winner, who will be announced during the foundation's annual gala, May 7 in the Columbus Convention & Trade Center.
Along with Rutland, the selection committee members are: Rodney Close, Boys and Girls Clubs of the Chattahoochee Valley chief executive officer; Steve Davis, Columbus Water Works president; Kim Lester, the 2013 Teacher of the Year when she taught at Britt David (now at St. Elmo); Marquette McKnight, Media Marketing and More chief executive officer; Joe Mills, the 2002 Teacher of the Year when he taught at Johnson Elementary (now an educational consultant at the Center for the Collaborate Classroom); Bill Murphy, Greater Columbus Chamber of Commerce executive vice president for economic development; Warren Steele, Columbus Regional Health Board of Directors chairman;
MEEF is a nonprofit organization dedicated to fostering educational excellence by helping and honoring innovative and effective teachers. In its 19-year history, the foundation has awarded more than $1.9 million through the Teacher of the Year, STEM-T3, Harvard Fellows and Harvard Project Zero programs, as well as grants.
Mark Rice, 706-576-6272. Follow Mark on Twitter@MarkRiceLE.
HOW TO ATTEND THE GALA
What: Muscogee Educational Excellence Foundational annual gala, where the Muscogee County School District's 2015 Teacher of the Year will be announced.
When: May 7; reception starts at 6 p.m., dinner and program at 7 p.m.
Where: Columbus Convention & Trade Center
Tickets: $35; on sale April 13-24 at the Springer Opera House Box Office.
MCSD 2015 TEACHER OF THE YEAR NOMINEES
Tracie Urness, AIM Program
Lynn Robertson, Aaron Cohn Middle School
Shannon Williamson, Allen Elementary School
Kelli Kelley, Arnold Magnet Academy
Rosalyn Shavers, Baker Middle School
Linda Purter, Blackmon Road Middle School
Ronica Forte, Blanchard Elementary School
Cara Humphries, Brewer Elementary School
Aleatha Thrush, Britt David Magnet Academy
Victoria Neal, Carver High School
Lori Carson, Clubview Elementary School
Jeffrey Pearce, Columbus High School
Kristi Shorter-Crawford, Davis Elementary School
Amanda Martin, Dawson Elementary School
Casey McKinney, Dimon Elementary Magnet Academy
Pagianna Boykin, Dorothy Height Elementary School
Cecille Cooper, Double Churches Elementary School
Victoria Vialva Griffin, Double Churches Middle School
Beth Horner, Downtown Elementary Magnet Academy
Kelly Williams, Eagle Ridge Academy
Polly Ann Propst Everritt, Early College Academy
Anthony Shelton, East Columbus Magnet Academy
Fredrick Weldon, Eddy Middle School
Erica Womack, Forrest Road Elementary School
Oliver Ellis, Fort Middle School
Suzanne Butler, Fox Elementary School
Jeannie Cole, Gentian Elementary School
Jessica Thorne, Georgetown Elementary School
Stacy Lacy, Hannan Elementary Magnet Academy
Natalie Kelly, Hardaway High School
Susan Franks, Johnson Elementary School
Sheryl Green, Jordan High School
Harrold Hines, Kendrick High School
Julie Wood, Key Elementary School
Benita Laughlin, Lonnie Jackson Academy
Cholana Foley, Martin Luther King Jr. Elementary School
Tiffany Perrine, Mathews Elementary School
Karen McDavid, Midland Academy
Jason Thorne, Midland Middle School
Ebony Robinson North Columbus Elementary School
Isiah Harper, Northside High School
Marie Epting, Reese Road Leadership Academy
Stan Shively, Richards Middle School
Kylie Holloway, Rigdon Road Elementary School
Shannon Wooldridge, River Road Elementary School
Sherry Bell, Rothschild Leadership Academy
Diana Allen, Shaw High School
Eleanore Camacho, South Columbus Elementary School
Gaye Haynes, Spencer High School
Jennifer Dobbins, St. Elmo Center for the Gifted
Sasha Smith, St. Marys Road Magnet Academy
Jeremy White, Veterans Memorial Middle School
Angela Capers, Waddell Elementary School
Rebecca Willis-Powell, Wesley Heights Elementary School
Forrest Parker, Woodall Center
Mary Thompson, Wynnton Arts Academy