Muscogee County School District Teacher of the Year nominees announced

If genes don't help produce excellent teachers, then role models sure do.

And it seems that Lindsey Barker and Jennifer Sappington have benefited from both.

They were among the 59 Muscogee County School District Teacher of the Year nominees the Muscogee Educational Excellence Foundation announced Wednesday in the Columbus Public Library auditorium.

Barker teaches math at Richards Middle School. Sappington teaches social studies at Northside High School. They are the nieces of MCSD Teacher of the Year award winners: Barker's aunt, Amy Willis, taught math at Arnold Middle School when she won in 1995; Sappington's aunt, Pam Carter, taught special education at Hardaway High School when she won in 1991.

Making more links in the proud chain of educational excellence, Sappington told Barker that Willis taught her back then.

"I know what a great teacher my aunt was and Amy was, so it's an honor and a privilege to even be considered in that same category and on that same level," Sappington said.

"It's a legacy for me," Barker said. "There are so many math teachers in my family. Everybody knows Amy, and to know that I can make that same connection is a huge honor."

The nominees are determined by each of the district's schools. They will be honored throughout the year, including breakfast with the National Teacher of the Year in March and culminating with the MCSD Teacher of the Year gala May 2 in the Columbus Convention & Trade Center, where the winner will be announced. The $35 tickets to the gala will be on sale at the Springer Opera House box office April 15-26.

Janet Davis is chairwoman of the selection committee, which also includes Debbie Caballero, Colby Cardin, Travis Chambers, Debra Everett, Tom Hackett, Paul Hampton, Christine Powell and Tom Titus.

MEEF is a nonprofit organization that has awarded more than $1.5 million to innovative teachers through financial incentives in the Teacher of the Year program, the MEEF Grant program and the MEEF Endowment Fund.

"You've got your Oscars and your Grammys, but we've got our real rock stars and superstars here today," MEEF chairman Lee Brantley told the nominees.

MCSD interim superintendent John Phillips added, "It's probably one of the most cherished things that come about, when your colleagues think that you are the best teacher and deserving of this recognition."MCSD TEACHER OF THE YEAR NOMINEES

James Brooks Academic Success Center

Susan Elder Allen Elementary

Ronda Allen Arnold Magnet Academy

Rodolfo Perez Baker Middle

Piper Hudmon Blackmon Road Middle

Robert Ogburn Blanchard Elementary

Stephanie Marley Brewer Elementary

Kim Lester Britt David Magnet Academy

Annette Williams Carver High

Carol Wink Clubview Elementary

Sonya Allen Columbus High

Marilyn Wilson Cusseta Road Elementary

Willie Mae Wade J.D. Davis Elementary

Tamika Freeman Dawson Elementary

Kathryn Stein Kemp Dimon Elementary Magnet Academy

Wendye Melzar Double Churches Elementary

Brian Hale Double Churches Middle

Nicholas Goff Downtown Elementary Magnet Academy

Amy Griffis Eagle Ridge Academy

Christy Grigsby Early College Academy of Columbus

Deborah Robertson East Columbus Magnet Academy

Teresea Marvets Eddy Middle

Mary Jones Edgewood Elementary

Tracy Barnes Forrest Road Elementary

Natasha Anderson Fort Magnet Academy

Amanda Patel Fox Elementary

Ellen Lane Gentian Elementary

Treniece McJunkins Georgetown Elementary

Nancy Willis Hannan Elementary Magnet Academy

Brenda Howell Hardaway High

Brittany Heimlich Johnson Elementary

Rachael DuBois Jordan High

Josiah Sumbry Kendrick High

Sironda Peters Key Elementary

Jennifer Langford Lonnie Jackson Academy

Gabrielle Bryant Marshall Middle

Candice Watson Martin Luther King, Jr. Elementary

Donna Vaughan Mathews Elementary

Candace Burkhalter Midland Academy

Jennifer Bray Midland Middle

Doran Yvette Sall Muscogee Elementary

Candace Turner North Columbus Elementary

Jennifer Sappington Northside High

Vanessa Caldwell Reese Road Leadership Academy

Lindsey Barker Richards Middle

Rosie Reynolds Rigdon Road Elementary

Lela Snead River Road Elementary

Jeffery Jones Rose Hill Center/Daniel

Les Cole Rothschild Middle

Lynda Kannady Shaw High

Rachel Wilson South Columbus Elementary

Lamont Sheffield Spencer High

Benjamin Foust St. Elmo Center for the Gifted

Maris Walls St. Marys Elementary Magnet Academy

Blair Tucker Veterans Memorial Middle

Hanna Williams Waddell Elementary

Amber Hurley Wesley Heights Elementary

Theresa Price Woodall Program

Sherrie Meadows Wynnton Arts Academy