While there can only be one overall district winner, Superintendent Frank Roberson said they all represent what is genuine and valued in the Richmond County.
“This is an arena where none of you can actually lose,” Roberson said. “It doesn’t matter which person is selected as county teacher of the year. You’re all winners.”
School officials held an intimate ceremony Friday to announce the five candidates for county teacher of the year and talk about what makes them the best and brightest educators in the district. They will be evaluated by a panel of judges over the next few months and a winner will be announced at the annual banquet in November.
Every school nominates a teacher of the year before the school year ends in the summer, and those candidates submit an anonymous application for the district’s top teacher. The candidates are graded on a rubric, and the five with the highest marks are selected as finalists for the district title in the fall, according to Chief Human Resources Officer Norman Hill.
The finalists this year are: Ella Baker, a K-2 teacher at Sand Hills Center; Everett Cannady, a middle and high school band teacher at Davidson Fine Arts Magnet School; Shannon Kilpatrick-Hagan, a special education biology, physical science, environmental science and anatomy teacher at TW Josey High School; Mary (Jenny) Landrum, a kindergarten teacher at CT Walker Traditional Magnet School; and Denise Turner, a kindergarten teacher at Warren Road Elementary School.
The teachers’ principals all gave testimony as to what makes their candidates special during the ceremony Friday.
Sand Hills Director Kathy-Lewis Hawkins said Baker, a four-time TOY, is a tireless mentor who helps in all aspects from tutoring to Special Olympics events.
Davidson Assistant Principal Aletha Snowberger said Cannady has doubled the school’s band size in his time at Davidson and has the ability to spot a struggling student in a symphony of dozens by hearing one flat note.
Kilpatrick-Hagan is known as the “heart and soul” of the special education department at Josey and continually mentors other teachers in how to properly differentiate lessons to help a roomful of students learning at a different pace, according to Principal Ronald Wiggins.
Jenny Landrum helped bring to CT Walker a butterfly and vegetable garden, which helped feed more than 40 families over the last two years, according to Principal Renee Kelly.
And Warren Road Principal Connie Ryals said Turner’s true love for children is heard every day in the songs she sings to her pupils to keep them energized and focused.
Stephanie Ross, the 2013 district TOY, told the candidates to enjoy every moment until the banquet in November but to know they are all valued educators for getting this far.
“When I was where you are, I felt like a winner whether I got any further or not,” said Ross, a physical education teacher at Glenn Hills Elementary School. “Although we don’t do it for the recognition, it feels good to be recognized.”