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Finalists announced for MCSD Teacher of the Year

The finalists for the Muscogee County School District’s 2015 Teacher of the Year award were announced Friday:

· Oliver Ellis, Fort Middle School, seventh-grade science

· Sheryl Green, Jordan High School, English and literature

· Isiah Harper, Northside High School, theater

The Muscogee Educational Excellence Foundation, which conducts the district’s Teacher of the Year program, announced these other semifinalists two weeks ago:

· Pagianna Boykin, Dorothy Height Elementary School, fourth-grade math

· Beth Horner, Downtown Elementary Magnet Academy, kindergarten

· 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 10 semifinalists by assessing the applications of the nominees, one from each of the district’s 56 schools. Then the committee interviewed the semifinalists to choose the three finalists.

Rutland, now the coordinator of the Coalition for Sound Growth, explained to the Ledger-Enquirer what stands out about Ellis, Green and Harper.

“Without exception, these three became animated when they spoke about their students and their classes,” she said. “They each had a powerful message for our entire community and beyond.”

That message include believing in data-driven classrooms that focus on teaching essential skills, not giving up on their students – and insisting their students don’t give up on themselves – as well as encouraging them to find their gifts and enhance them, Rutland said.

“They strive to have every student reaching their individual academic goals and then motivate them to go farther than they expected,” she said. “Their stories include motivational tools which make you want to sign up for whatever they are teaching.”

The finalists’ applications and interviews showed evidence of exciting classes full of hands-on and relevant learning, and they have impressive records of community involvement, Rutland said.

“We are indeed fortunate to have teachers of this caliber in Columbus,” she said.

To select the winner, committee members will observe the finalists teaching in their classrooms. The foundation will announce the winner during its 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 Collaborative 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.

HOW TO ATTEND THE GALA

What: Muscogee Educational Excellence Foundation 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

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