Chamber awards excellence in Shelby County schools

From left, Tahireh Markert, Elizabeth Frederick, Kelly Hill and Jodie Ferguson were recognized as the 2013-2014 Students and Educators of the Year by the Greater Shelby County Chamber of Commerce on April 30. (Reporter Photo / Jon Goering)

From left, Tahireh Markert, Elizabeth Frederick, Kelly Hill and Jodie Ferguson were recognized as the 2013-2014 Students and Educators of the Year by the Greater Shelby County Chamber of Commerce on April 30. (Reporter Photo / Jon Goering)

By MOLLY DAVIDSON / Staff Writer

PELHAM—The Greater Shelby County Chamber of Commerce celebrated the quality and talent of students and teachers across the county during the 2013-2014 Student and Educator of the Year award presentation and ceremony held at the Pelham Civic Center and Ice Arena on April 30.

“This recognizes the excellence in Shelby County classrooms,” Greater Shelby Chamber of Commerce Vice-Chair and State Rep. April Weaver said of the inaugural edition of the awards.

Four winners were chosen from a total of 52 nominees. Montevallo High School’s Elizabeth Frederick was named the Career Track Student of the Year, Indian Springs School’s Tahireh Markert was named the College Track Student of the Year, Inverness Elementary School literacy coach, Kelly Hill, was named the Elementary Educator of the Year and Oak Mountain Middle School math teacher, Jodie Ferguson was named the Secondary Educator of the Year.

“The judges had a really hard time choosing just one winner in each category,” Weaver said. “That’s a sign of the excellence we have here in Shelby County.”

Candidates for the awards were selected by their schools through the submission of a nomination form by each principal, Greater Shelby Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Kirk Mancer said. Nomination forms detailed each candidate’s qualifications, community involvement and included letters of support.

Winners were then selected from the pool of nominees by a panel of judges in a two-step review process. A group of three judges narrowed down the number of candidates, then a group of five judges made the final decision.

“The selection committee went through each (nomination form) multiple times,” Director of Alabama Lime Operations and panel judge Laura McAnany said.

“This award process focuses a lot on the community involvement and support, along with the obvious educational component,” McAnany said. “It was very comforting to see the dedicated individuals that work in our community.”

All nominees and winners were announced and recognized during the award ceremony. Nominees received certificates and winners received a memento and $750 toward the continuing education of the winning students and the purchase of materials for the winning teachers’ classrooms.