Semifinalists announced for Muscogee County School District Teacher of the Year award

The Muscogee Educational Excellence Foundation announced Tuesday the semifinalists for the 2013 Muscogee County School District Teacher of the Year award.

The 10 semifinalists are:

Ronda Allen, Arnold Magnet Academy, seventh grade, language arts

Benjamin Foust, St. Elmo Center for the Gifted, fourth and fifth grade, creativity

Christy Grigsby, Early College Academy, 10th and 11th grade, English/language arts

Brenda Howell, Hardaway High School, ninth-12th grade, environmental science and forensic science

Ellen Lane, Gentian Elementary School, fifth grade

Kim Lester, Britt David Magnet Academy, fifth grade

Stephanie Marley, Brewer Elementary School, kindergarten

Rodolfo Perez, Baker Middle School, sixth-eighth grade, special education

Jennifer Sappington, Northside High School, ninth-11th grade, civics, U.S. history and world history

Carol Wink, Clubview Elementary School, pre-kindergarten-fifth grade, physical education.

The foundation's selection committee chose the semifinalists among 59 applicants, who were nominated by their respective schools. The committee will interview the semifinalists and choose three finalists. Committee members will observe the finalists while they teach in their classrooms, and the winner will be announced at the 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).

Hackett, the provost and vice president for academic affairs at CSU, said the semifinalists' passion and expertise came through in their applications.

"These teachers are able to do so much better, compared to five or 10 years ago, as far as ascertaining where kids are performance-wise and come up with strategies to move the needle," said Hackett, who was superintendent of Phenix City Public Schools from 2000-03.

Caballero, the marketing and communications officer at Girl Scouts of Historic Georgia, is impressed with the commitment the semifinalists have to not only their students but also each other in the profession.

"They do everything in their power to make sure that our students are learning and that they are motivated and feel loved and safe," she said. "We are honored to be able to recognize the greatness in them and the power they hold in our community."

The foundation is a nonprofit organization that has awarded more than $1.5 million to innovative teachers through Teacher of the Year, grants, an endowment fund and other programs.


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 Marquette McKnight of Media, Marketing and More at 706-660-9702.