The Muscogee Educational Excellence Foundation announced the Muscogee County School District 2015 Teacher of the Year nominees Thursday in the Studio Theatre at the RiverCenter for the Performing Arts.
Each of the system's 56 schools nominated a teacher to compete for the district's top award. They also will be honored in March at a breakfast with the National Teacher of the year, then during MEEF's annual gala, May 7, when the district's Teacher of the Year will be announced in the Columbus Convention & Trade Center.
"We appreciate what you are doing for the students in Muscogee County," Columbus Councilor Judy Thomas, the foundation's chairwoman, told the nominees. "The Muscogee Educational Excellence Foundation is delighted to fulfill our mission to recognize and reward outstanding teachers."
Superintendent David Lewis said, "This is an extremely high and significant honor, one for which you can and should feel justifiably proud. In addition to all of the standards of excellence, the fact that you were selected by your peers is extremely impressive as well."
Lewis also praised MEEF for "not just acknowledging teachers as many foundations do throughout the country but for the unique relationship we have in promoting and continuing professional growth and development."
MEEF is a nonprofit organization dedicated to fostering educational excellence by focusing on individual teachers who are innovative and exceptionally effective in their profession. In its 19-year history, the foundation has awarded teachers in the district more than $1.9 million through financial incentives in the Teacher of the Year program, grants and an endowment fund.
One of those grants sends selected Teacher of the Year semifinalists to Harvard University each summer for professional development. Another grant, starting this year, will send a different group of selected teachers, in years 1-3 of their career, to a branch of the Harvard program in Atlanta.
"Some of the folks who've been to the Harvard program said to us, 'If I had that opportunity earlier in my career, it would have made a tremendous difference in what I do and how I teach,'" Thomas said.
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