GSCCC awards $3,500 to educators, students of the year

PELHAM – The Greater Shelby County Chamber of Commerce awarded $3,500 in cash awards to Shelby County teachers and students during its fourth Student and Educator of the Year luncheon on Wednesday, April 26.

Each school in Shelby County was invited to nominate an elementary and a secondary teacher of the year, as well as a “college ready” and a “career ready” student to be considered for an award.

The winners in each category were selected by a panel of judges. Keyla Handley, chamber director of community and investor development, said the teachers were evaluated based on an application packet that included information about their education and teaching history, community involvement, teaching philosophies, letters of recommendation from colleagues and administrators.

Students were evaluated based on their grade point average, extracurricular activities and awards, a written essay and a letter of recommendation. Students also went through an interview process, which was intended to help them develop soft skills such as punctuality, speaking clearly, eye contact, dressing properly and resume writing.

After recognizing the candidates in each category, chamber president and CEO Kirk Mancer announced the winners. Shelby County College and Career Center student Ben Jones was named the Career Ready Student of the Year, Oak Mountain High School student Armeen Barghi was named the College Ready Student of the Year, Oak Mountain Intermediate teacher Amy Miller was named the Elementary Educator of the Year and Shelby County College and Career Center instructor Gary Griffith was named the Secondary Educator of the Year.

The students received a $1,000 cash prize to use toward education and career development and the teachers received a $750 cash prize to use in their classrooms.

“I was surprised to win because we have so many good teachers in Shelby County,” Griffith said. “It was an honor to nominated in the first place.”

Griffith, who is in his 13th year as a teacher, teaches law enforcement and firefighting classes at the College and Career Center. Prior to be becoming a teacher, he spent 18 years as a police officer.

“Teaching has been a lot of fun,” he said. “I’m able to help students stay out of trouble and maybe even build a future in law enforcement or as a firefighter. This award is because I’ve been fortunate to have good students.

“It’s hard to produce good students if they’re not willing to work hard and to learn. When you get kids who are excited to learn about your profession it just makes it a lot easier.”

The 2016-17 nominees are listed below:

College Ready Student of the Year Nominees:
Faith Blair, Calera High School
Kayley Dotson, Chelsea High School
Tucker Johnson, Cornerstone Christian School 
Sarah Kathryn Murdaugh, Evangel Classical Christian School 
Sarah Kallaher, Helena High School 
Hunter Cunningham, Kingwood Christian School
Samuel Reece, Montevallo High School
Armeen Barghi, Oak Mountain High School
Kelsey Schoenmeyer, Pelham High School
Shelby Middleton, Shelby County College & Career Center 
Samantha Slaughter, Shelby County High School 
Leah Warman, Thompson High School 
Kaylee Littlefield, Vincent High School

Career Ready Student of the Year Nominees:
David Lawrence, Calera High School
Amanda Francis, Chelsea High School  
Ryan Atchison, Cornerstone Christian School 
Brianna Pennington, Helena High School 
Molly Sullivan, Kingwood Christian School 
Taylor Sellers, Montevallo High School
Nathan Mercer, Oak Mountain High School
James Keon Hollingsworth, Pelham High School
Ben Jones, Shelby County College & Career Center 
Kody Farmer, Shelby County High School 
Freddie Dale McSherdon, Jr., Thompson High School 
Hayle Brasher, Vincent High School

Elementary Educator Nominees: 
Shawn Nash, Calera Elementary School
Cindy Carlisle, Calera Intermediate School
Jessica Adams, Chelsea Park Elementary School
Stephanie Cochran, Creek View Elementary School
Leah Klimchak, Elvin Hill Elementary School
Kathleen Boehme, Forest Oaks Elementary School 
Mandie Gibbs, Helena Elementary School 
Christy Cordrey, Helena Intermediate School 
Cathy Hart, Inverness Elementary School
Holly Kline, Kingwood Christian School
William Holley, Linda Nolen Learning Center
Lindsey Thigpen, Meadow View Elementary School 
Jenna Campbell, Montevallo Elementary School
Stephanie Tucker, Mt. Laurel Elementary School
Sara Askew, Oak Mountain Elementary School 
Amy Miller, Oak Mountain Intermediate School 
Caron Riley, Pelham Oaks Elementary School
Jennifer Church, Pelham Ridge Elementary School
Christina Shaler, Shelby Elementary School 
Matt Wilson, Thompson Intermediate School
Deana Anderson, Vincent Elementary School 
Brooke Brock, Wilsonville Elementary School 

Secondary Educator Nominees: 
Doug Forsythe, Calera High School 
Melanie Thomas, Calera Middle School 
Shannon Goodwin, Chelsea High School 
Ashley Evans, Chelsea Middle School 
Krista Smith, Columbiana Middle School
Melinda “Mendy” Adams, Helena High School 
Amy Cook, Helena Middle School 
Lee Scott, Kingwood Christian School 
Lee Pastor, Montevallo High School 
Natalie Jackson, Montevallo Middle School 
Marissa Rath, Oak Mountain High School 
Vicki Jackson, Oak Mountain Middle School 
Elizabeth Lee Short, Pelham High School
Alicia Melton, Riverchase Middle School 
Gary Griffith, Shelby County College & Career Center 
Marisol “Soli” Lilly, Shelby County High School 
Deborah DeCroes, Thompson High School 
Ron Munday, Thompson Middle School 
Amber Willis, Thompson Sixth Grade Center 
Leunika Davis, Vincent Middle High School