Church, Short named PCS district Teachers of the Year

Published 12:49 pm Thursday, December 22, 2016

PELHAM – Teachers Jennifer Church and Lee Short were named Pelham City Schools’ elementary and secondary Teachers of the Year and will now go on to compete at the state level.

Jennifer Church

Jennifer Church

Church, a special education teacher at Pelham Ridge, said she was in “utter shock” to first learn that she was named Pelham Ridge’s Teacher of the Year, but she said she was “beyond thrilled” to find out that she won the title of elementary Teacher of the Year.

Lee Short

Lee Short

“I just feel like this is what I love to do,” Church said. “I wake up every day and I come to school excited to see my students.”

Short said she was honored to be named Pelham High’s Teacher of the Year and the district’s secondary Teacher of the Year.

“We have so many good teachers here that I don’t know if I could’ve picked just one,” Short said. “I was really surprised when I found out it was me.”

The school system selected a Teacher of the Year for each of its four schools and from that chose an elementary and secondary Teacher of the Year for the district.

Church, who is married and has two children, has been a teacher for 13 years and has been teaching in Pelham for eight years. She teaches reading, math and social skills to fourth and fifth grade special education students. She received a bachelor’s degree in special education from the University of Alabama.

“I always knew I wanted to be a teacher ever since I was a little girl and I would play teacher in my room with my dolls,” Church said. “I just want everyone to know that it’s my mission as a teacher to know my students on a personal level, not just their academic strengths and weaknesses. When students knows that you care enough about them to ask how their baseball game went over the weekend, it helps build that trust.”

Short, whose husband is an art teacher at Helena Elementary, is in her 13th year as a biology and earth/space science teacher at Pelham High School.

She received a Bachelor’s of Science in biology with a minor in chemistry and a Master’s in Education with a concentration in biology from the University of Montevallo.

“It means a lot to me to be recognized this way,” Short said, a Pelham High graduate. “I’ve spent over half of my life here at this school and it means a lot to me. I want my alma mater to be a place where students prepare for their future. When they leave I want them to look back on their time here with fond memories.”

Church and Short will now have an opportunity to submit an application to become Alabama Teacher of the Year for the 2017-18 school year. The deadline to apply is Jan. 31, 2017. From February to April 2017, a Teacher of the Year will be selected for the entire state and for each Alabama State Board of Education district. Shelby County is a part of District 3.

The statewide Teacher of the Year will be entered into the National competition.