Schools honor top teachers

Three beaming faces left Oak Mountain High School on Dec. 4 with the title of Teacher of the Year and a cash prize to help better educate students.

Shelby County Schools Superintendent Randy Fuller said steering his own three children through the system helped him build relationships with teachers that he is now proud to honor.

“It hit home to me again tonight that we are a true close family in Shelby County,” Fuller said. “It really gets me excited to see you who have stepped out above and beyond the call of duty in your schools.”

This year’s honored teachers include Thompson Intermediate teacher Sabrina Lynch, Columbiana Middle School teacher Andrea Jaconbsen and Vincent High School teacher Traci Lee.

These teachers all gather energy for their vocation from a variety of influences and experiences.

Jacobsen even holstered a gun before molding young minds. She enlisted in the Army to help pay for college.

“I have been fortunate enough to have traveled to every continent except Antarctica, serve my country in combat deployments in both Iraq and Afghanistan, and obtain first-hand experiences of the world,” Jacobsen said.

Jacobsen said she became a teacher at Columbiana Middle School so she could inspire kids. She wants to challenge them to rise above their situations so they can achieve what they deserve. She teaches eighth-grade world history and geography.

Lynch teaches fifth-grade at Thompson Intermediate and coaches basketball at Thompson Middle.

She uses leadership to guide her students. Lynch said she first developed her own leadership skills through her love of sports.

“When I think about my students, I focus on my legacy or what I want the students to remember about their experiences in my classroom or on the hardwood gym,” she said. “I would say one of my greatest contributions … is being able to motivate my students and players.”

Lynch said she feels teachers are in an undeniable position to positively influence students.

High school teacher of the year Tracy Lee said her decision to become a Spanish teacher was influenced by the L.A. riots that occurred her senior year of high school.

“At the age of 18, I contemplated ways I could make a positive impact with my life,” Lee said. “I decided to become a Spanish teacher to help young people overcome biases and to appreciate cultures other than their own.”

Lee said one accomplishment she is very proud of is earning her National Board Certification. She said she knows her students can see that she expects a lot from them, but it is because she also has high expectations of herself.

“I feel that I have set an example for my students that they can achieve anything that they want if they are dedicated,” she said.

Teacher of the Year candidate

Joni Colmer, Calera Elementary; Bonnie Coker, Chelsea Park Elementary; Lauren Roland, Chelsea Intermediate; Somer Miller, Creek View Elementary; Melissa Whitfield, Elvin Hill Elementary; Heather Waldron, Helena Elementary; Tami Genry, Helena Intermediate; Candy Cooley, Inverness Elementary; Huntleigh Dodson, Linda Nolen Learning Center; Frances Reynolds, Meadow View Elementary; Melissa Smith, Mt Laurel Elementary; Renna Clements, Montevallo Elementary; Hayden Belisle, Oak Mountain Elementary; Eden Jones Hinds, Oak Mountain Intermediate; Aundrea Blevins, Shelby Elementary; Jennifer Towles, Valley Elementary; Sally Dumais, Valley Intermediate; Amy Martin, Vincent Elementary; Allison Bassett, Wilsonville Elementary; Kevin Pughsley, Calera Middle; Chana Miller, Chelsea Middle; Richard Wright, Helena Middle; Julie Caine, Montevallo Middle; Ave Jack, Riverchase Middle; Anthony Marino, Oak Mountain Middle; LaTasha McMillan, Thompson Middle; Melanie King, Alternative School; Donna Sinquefield, Calera High; Lauren Yancey, Chelsea High; John Fuller, Montevallo High; Sarah Love, Oak Mountain High; Jep Irwin, Pelham High; Roger Gill, School of Technology; Anne Bichel, Shelby County High; and Renee Brown, Thompson High.