Dallas County School System honors its teachers

Published 7:39 am Friday, April 21, 2023

By Travis Gupton

The Selma Times-Journal

Dallas County School Systems held its first-ever Teacher of the Year Luncheon on Thursday at ArtsRevive. They honored 12 teachers from each school in the district who were nominated by their peers.

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Kelia Carter of Brantley Elementary School, Amanda Flanagan Brown of Bruce K. Craig Elementary School, Dale Moore of Dallas County Career Technical Center, Dorothy Moore of Dallas County High School, Kim Atchison of J.E. Terry Elementary School, Andrea Granger of Keith Middle High School, Angela Williams of Salem Elementary School, Lequita Carter of Southside Primary School, Curtis Bell of Southside High School, Quanitsha McGee of Valley Grande Elementary School, Sherri Thomas of Tipton Durant Middle School and Gaylen Denson of William R. Martin Middle School were all honored as the first ever teachers of the year for the district. Dallas County Superintendent Anthony Sampson welcomed the audience to the event and spoke on the purpose of why everyone was there that day.

“It is my esteemed pleasure and honor to welcome you to the inaugural Teacher of the Year Luncheon,” Sampson said to the audience. “Today, in this beautiful setting we pay tribute to those who have made investments to our future beyond recognition. On behalf of the Dallas County Board of Education, its nearly 2,400 students and 519 employees and community members we are excited to lift those who are lifting others. Teachers.”

After an invocation by Freedom Baptist Church Pastor Frederick Hardy the audience was comprised of teachers, principals, and other faculty and staff from the district as well as staff from the state superintendent’s office enjoyed a meal and music.

The keynote speaker for the event was Alabam State Superintendent of Education, Dr. Eric G. Mackey. Mackey spoke on the impact that teachers have on students on a day-in and day-out basis. Mackey talked about teachers throughout his schooling that motivated him and left a big impact on his life. Once he left college Mackey said he really never left school.

“I finished college and taught for a few years and then had a principal who encouraged me to go back to school and get my education degree,” Mackey said. “Then I was a local principal then superintendent and now for the past five years the state superintendent. I am thankful for that opportunity and I’m thankful for one of our super board members Dr. Chestnut who is from right here in Selma. The best thing about this job is that I get to visit folks like you. Teachers and classrooms all over the state.”

Coretta Smith and Dt. Christine Spear each performed during the event. During both performances there were tears shed and smile crossing the lips of many in the audience as they listened to the singing by both singers. Then the time came for the awards to be handed out. Each teacher was named and received their reward and for the long-time teacher at J.E. Terry  Atchison more commonly known as Mrs. A said it was just an honor to get nominated by her peers.

“It’s very humbling,” Atchison said. “I’m very surprised. I appreciate the vote of confidence that everyone gives me. I take it as such an honor to be named Teacher of the Year for Dallas County at J.E. Terry. “

McGee from Valley Grande that at first, she didn’t believe she deserved the award but one of her students gave her the confidence to believe that she deserved it.

“I did not think I deserved it at one point McGee said. “Then when I think about all of the years I have been teaching. I thought hey I really do deserve this. Then the motivation from the kids and the encouragement from others saying ‘hey you are a wonderful teacher’ Sometimes we don’t feel as wonderful every day we walk in there but when I see my babies that’s the main thing.”

Southside High Schools Curtis Bell echoed that focus on the children and how it helped him get through challenging times this year.

“My superintendent once asked me when he saw me at the Central Office what were the challenges,” Bell said. “I told him, I am not moved by challenges. We as teachers meet them. The biggest thing that I wanted to see and stay focused on and caring about was the students first and those who were facilitating instruction for the students. You keep your eyes on the children you’ll be fine through the challenges.”

Bell, later on, gave high praise for one of his fellow teachers who also won Teacher of the Year Andrea Granger of Keith Middle.

“To be standing beside her receiving the award that I don’t think to feel like she should be the Teacher of the Year but Teacher of a Lifetime.”

Granger said that she was in awe when she found out that she was named Teacher of the Year.

“When I got the nomination from Mrs. Zella Ford I thought it was fake,” Granger said. “I didn’t know it was happening. I said ‘Wait this must be spam so I close the email and then reopened it and people started responding. I was in awe and I don’t use the word awe recklessly. I was really surprised.”

The day was closed out with some words from Dallas County School Board President Mamie Solomon and one final song.