Denise Turner was named the top teacher in Richmond County on Wednesday, but she said the credit goes to the “little angels” who have sat in her classroom these past 23 years.
The Warren Road Elementary School kindergarten teacher thanked the boy who spent his childhood homeless, saw his mother pass away before second grade but went on to be a strong Navy serviceman.
She credited the girl who almost ripped Turner’s hot pink toenail off when she dashed around the classroom because she hadn’t taken her attention deficit disorder medication. She acknowledged little Sylvia, who could only be calmed down when Turner sang the 1970s Dr. Hook song Sylvia’s Mother.
“I want to thank God for sending me curve balls and quirky behavior in the form of 5- and 6-year-old children,” Turner said.
At the annual banquet Wednesday, Richmond County school officials also honored the 58 top teachers from individual schools, including the five finalists for district winner.
Superintendent Frank Roberson said all the educators were winners because they are dedicating their lives to the most important task there is – inspiring young minds.
“There’s no profession on this side of heaven that is as important as professional teaching, no profession,” Roberson said.
Every school nominates a teacher of the year for their individual campus in the spring, and those winners submit anonymous applications for the district’s top honor. The applications are graded, and the top five are selected as finalists.
A panel of five judges makes classroom visits for the top five to select the teacher who stands out above the rest.
The other finalists included Ella Baker, a special education teacher at Sand Hills; Everett Cannady, band teacher at John S. Davidson Fine Arts Magnet School; Shannon Kilpatrick-Hagan, a special education teacher at Josey High School; and Mary Landrum, a kindergarten teacher at C.T. Walker Traditional Magnet School.
Turner was named teacher of the year for her school in 2003 and again in 2010 when she was a finalist for the district honor.
Warren Road Principal Connie Ryals said it is Turner’s dedication and love for all children that sets her apart.
“She truly loves and respects every child that comes in her classroom,” Ryals said. “She makes learning fun, and she does that during these changing times. I’m blessed to be her principal.”