Pelham support persons, teachers of the year recognized

PELHAM – Several teachers and support personnel received recognition at the Pelham Board of Education meeting on Monday, Jan. 29, as Superintendent Dr. Scott Coefield set aside time to acknowledge the system’s Teachers of the Year and Support Persons of the Year.

Prior to the meeting, which was held at Pelham Park Middle School, a reception was held for the teacher and support persons being honored.

During the reception, guests enjoyed light hors d’oeuvres, desserts and beverages prepared by students in Pelham Park’s culinary program. Pelham Park Ambassadors greeted guests as they arrived and helped everyone find their way around the school.

A teacher and support person of the year was selected for each school. The district went on to select a District Elementary and District Secondary Teacher of the Year.

The Teachers of the Year for each school were: Christy Downing for Pelham Ridge Elementary, Ginger Aaron-Brush for Pelham Oaks Elementary, Nathan Collins for Pelham Park Middle and Rebecca Burnett for Pelham High School.

Aaron-Brush was selected as the District Elementary Teacher of the Year and Burnett was selected as the Secondary Teacher of the Year. Aaron-Brush and Burnett will be the district’s nominations for the Alabama State Department of Education’s Teacher of the Year program.

Downing has been teaching for 15 years, and she’s been in Pelham schools for 12 years. She’s taught fifth grade for her whole career, with the exception of one year when she taught kindergarten. Downing chose a career in education because she wants to make a difference and inspire young students to go after their dreams and pursue their passion.

Aaron-Brush is a physical education teacher at Pelham Oaks. She’s been teaching for 19 years, and 18 of those years have been in Pelham. Aaron-Brush’s favorite things about teaching at Pelham Oaks is the collaborative spirit within the faculty and the support she receives from her administration, colleagues, students and parents. Aaron-Brush’s favorite professional accomplishment is receiving National Board Certification and Renewal.

Collins teaches eighth grade World History and “We the People” (Constitutional Law) at Pelham Park Middle School. He’s been teaching for 14 years, and 13 of those years have been in Pelham. Collins says his favorite part about teaching is running into his former students and athletes. He said it’s exciting for him to hear how well they’re doing and gratifying to know he’s played a part in their path to success.

Burnett has been teaching for 23 years, and she’s currently in her 13th year at PHS. She teaches AP Literature, ninth grade Pre-AP English and ACT PREP. Burnett said she loves literature and teaching her content. Burnett is an A+ College Ready presenter and was recently awarded the “Beat the Mean” Award for her students’ excellent AP Scores that consistently exceed state and national averages.

Each of the teachers received a plaque and a name placard to be placed on their classroom door recognizing them as a Teacher of the Year and money to be used in their classrooms. Aaron-Brush and Burnett received $100, and Downing and Collins received $50.

The Support Persons of the Year were: Darlene Carlisle for Pelham Oaks, Kaneesha McGinnis for Pelham Ridge, Shannon Lombard for Pelham Park and Paul Hamilton for PHS. Each honoree received a plaque.

Carlisle is a custodian at Pelham Oaks. She said the best part about working at Pelham Oaks is the wonderful people she works with. She affectionately calls her co-workers her “second family.” Carlisle said she loves being around the students, and some of her favorite moments are at Christmas when students can be heard singing Christmas songs together.

McGinnis, known by most students and teachers as “Nurse K,” is the school nurse at Pelham Ridge. She has worked at Pelham Ridge for more than two years. She said her favorite thing about working at Pelham Ridge is being part of a team of people who are always encouraging and supportive of one another. McGinnis said she was so surprised and humbled when she was named Support Person of the Year because so many others also deserve the recognition.

Lombard is the Child Nutrition Program Manager at Pelham Park Middle School. She’s worked at the middle school since the school system was formed. Lombard said she appreciates her supportive staff and co-workers. They’ve adopted the motto “Teamwork makes the Dream Work” this year.

Hamilton is a custodian at Pelham High School. He’s worked at PHS since 2013 and supervises all custodial assignments and duties at the school. Hamilton said he takes pride in keeping PHS a clean environment for everyone. His favorite thing about PHS is the close-knit family environment among administrators, teachers and students.

In other business, the school board:

-Approved 11 personnel recommendations from Superintendent Dr. Scott Coefield.
-Approved an out-of-state field trip to Georgia for the Pelham Band Dance Team.
-Approved an out-of-state field trip to Douglasville, Georgia for the PHS Choir to perform at the Music in the Parks Festival on Saturday, April 7. After the performance, they will travel to Six Flags in Austell, Georgia.