Shelby County Schools names Teachers of the Year

NORTH SHELBY – The Shelby County Schools community came together on Monday, Dec. 9, at Oak Mountain High School to recognize a group of educators as the Teachers of the Year.

Each of the 32 schools in the Shelby County Schools system selected one teacher to be that school’s Teacher of the Year, and then that teacher was entered as a nominee for a districtwide Teacher of the Year award in one of three categories: Elementary School Teacher of the Year, Middle School Teacher of the Year and High School Teacher of the Year.

The event, which was hosted by the Shelby County School Education Foundation and sponsored by eCO Credit Union, included a dinner reception for guests followed by an awards presentation. SCS Education Foundation director Kendall Williams said the Teacher of the Year celebration is one of her favorite events of the year because it provides an opportunity “for teachers who work hard for our kids every day to be recognized and thanked.”

“Teachers are so special and we’re honored to be able to recognize them tonight,” Williams said.

SCS Superintendent Dr. Lewis Brooks congratulated the teacher’s being recognized and read a poem written from a student’s point of view that expressed why teachers are so vital. Afterward, Brooks helped pass out awards to each teacher.

In the Elementary School Teacher of the Year category, the winner was Martha Bentley, a third through fifth grade gifted education teacher at Elvin Hill Elementary in Columbiana. An educator for 23 years, Bentley has spent each of those years teaching at Elvin Hill.

She is the coordinator of the Leader in Me Faculty Lighthouse Team, sponsor of the Student Lighthouse Team, the Club Days coordinator, a member of the Tech Committee and Library Committee, an e3 Team facilitator and the WCAT Morning News sponsor.

After Bentley was announced the winner, the audience watched a video featuring students and teachers sharing reasons why they thought Bentley was worthy of such recognition. She was credited by many for being a sweet-spirited and kind-hearted person who takes the time to care for each of her students. One student said she always has a smile and is always helping other students.

“She’s the most thoughtful and intentional teacher that I’ve ever met,” one teacher commented.

Helena Middle School seventh grade life science teacher Anna McEntire was awarded the Middle School Teacher of the Year. McEntire has been an educator for eight years, with the last one and a half years at Helena Middle. She is the school’s dance team head coach, a Level 1 Google Certified Educator and a mentor to other teachers, among other things.

In the video made for McEntire, her colleagues praised her making such a huge impact at the school in such a short period of time. A fellow teacher said the passion McEntire brings to her classroom and her commitment to her students and her craft is incredible. A student said she’s always optimistic and enthusiastic, and another said her class is one of the best places to be at Helena Middle.

The High School Teacher of the Year award went to Amy Knight, an 11th and 12th grade anatomy and physiology teacher at Helena High School. Knight has been an educator for five years and each of those years have been within Shelby County Schools.

In addition to being a teacher, she is the SGA sponsor, a mentor teacher, the homecoming activities coordinator, the Student Leadership Team sponsor, the schoolwide Christmas and spring service project organizer, a member of the curriculum development team for SCS and so much more.

During her video, a colleague said she’s dedicated inside and outside of the classroom and makes all kids feel welcomed. Another commented that she also inspires other teachers to be the best they can be.

“She’s ‘that’ teacher,” one person said. A student added that she makes class fun and is the best teacher to go to if there’s anything a student needs.

In addition to receiving an award, each teacher also received a Teacher of the Year placard to place outside of the classroom door.