Celebrating devoted teachers

Published 11:39 am Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Karen Varner, Sidney Saindon, Whitney Pruitt and Kathy Brotherton are recognized as Pelham’s teachers of the year. (Contributed)

Karen Varner, Sidney Saindon, Whitney Pruitt and Kathy Brotherton are recognized as Pelham’s teachers of the year. (Contributed)

By CONNIE NOLEN / Community Columnist

At the January Pelham City Schools’ Board of Education meeting, four teachers were honored as finalists for the PCS Teacher of the Year Award. Whitney Pruitt represented Valley Elementary, Sidney Saindon represented Valley Intermediate School, Kathy Brotherton represented Riverchase Middle and Karen Varner represented Pelham High.

Of this field of four devoted teachers, Kathy Brotherton was chosen as the Pelham City Schools District Teacher of the Year. Brotherton began her teaching career at Riverchase Middle 16 years ago.

“Kathy Brotherton came to Riverchase as my student teacher and then she was hired to have her own classroom at Riverchase Middle,” RMS teacher Jean Estes said. “Kathy is a wonderful teacher—and an excellent writer.”

Brotherton came to teaching after working in banking. Currently, Brotherton teachers Pre-AP English Language Arts to eighth graders.

“Teachers have to be teachable. I learn from the kids,” Brotherton said. “I’m honored to be recognized at this stage of my career.”

As another debate over teacher tenure smolders in the Alabama State House this legislative session, questions concerning the merit of veteran teachers arise.

“The public wants teachers to produce in order to maintain their positions from year to year,” one legislator said at a recent round table discussion.

What are teachers producing? Great teachers meet kids where they are and take those kids as far as they can go. Teachers accomplish this task by teaching, nurturing, empowering and guiding students towards success—and those activities seem impossible to measurable on an annual basis.

Tenure exists to allow teachers to know why they are dismissed. In neighboring states, a drive to push down costs has led to the release of tenured teachers. In effect, when tenured teachers are silenced, the voice of those professionals who work most closely with our students are silenced.

Tenure protects good teachers from arbitrary release and allows veteran teachers the security to make requests based on student needs.

“I’m a veteran teacher,” PCS District Teacher of the Year Kathy Brotherton said, “But I’m also a learner. I am teaching students, learning myself and mentoring young teachers.”