Shelby County Chamber recognizing students, educators of the year

Published 3:53 pm Thursday, June 4, 2020

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...


Shelby County’s leading students and educators for the 2019-2020 school year were recognized at their homes during The Shelby County Chamber’s Seventh Annual “Student & Educator of the Year” program presented by America’s First Federal Credit Union and co-sponsored by Vulcan Materials Company and The University of Montevallo.

Schools throughout Shelby County were invited to submit both an “academic leader standout” and “career pathway standout” Student of the Year to represent their school.

All of the nominees were evaluated on the following criteria: GPA, extra-curricular activities and awards, a written response (essay) on their proposed career track/course of study and letters of recommendation.

Each student was asked to participate in a 20-minute Zoom interview with a panel of three judges.

The Educator of the Year candidates were nominated in three categories—elementary, middle and high school—by their school principals. Three judges evaluated them on their philosophy of teaching, community involvement and recommendations from colleagues and school administrators, including a brief video where many showcased their exceptional classrooms.

All of the nominees were visited by representatives from the Chamber, and presented with a sign identifying them as a 2019-2020 nominee.

“We believe that recognizing the excellence that is demonstrated by students and educators throughout Shelby County each and every day is a worthy pursuit,” Chamber President and CEO Kirk Mancer said. “Coupled with the challenges presented to all of our students and educators during the COVID-19 pandemic, this year’s program is extra special.”

The program concluded with eight recipients—two “Career Pathway Standout” students, two “Academic Leader Standout” students and one “Future Leader” student, one Elementary School Educator of the Year, one Middle School Educator of the Year and one High School Educator of the Year.

The five student recipients each received a $1,000 cash award, and the three educator recipients received a $750 cash award.

“The five student recipients will receive these funds to continue their education and career development, and the three teachers will receive their awards for use in their classrooms at their discretion,” said Pari Barzegari, the Chamber’s director of community and career development.

The 2019-2020 nominees are listed below in alphabetical order by last name in each category:

“Career Pathway Standout” Student of the Year nominees

  • Zachary Adams, Chelsea High School
  • Jaxon Butterworth, Calera High School
  • Grace Carr, Montevallo High School
  • Gigi Germek, Pelham High School
  • Gavin Gray, Thompson High School
  • Jairo Guadalupe, Shelby County College and Career Center
  • Caleb Reed Horton, Shelby County High School
  • Heather Houston, Briarwood Christian School
  • Lyle Jensen, Oak Mountain High School
  • Kelsey Mooney, Helena High School
  • James Watts, Vincent Middle High School

“Academic Pathway Standout” Student of the Year nominees

  • Paisley Armstrong, Vincent Middle High School
  • Matthew Bray, Oak Mountain High School
  • Ryan Caver, Calera High School
  • Noah Harper, Shelby County High School
  • Abigail Heuton, Montevallo High School
  • Brent Jones, Shelby County Career and Technical Education Center
  • Erin Long, Pelham High School
  • Allison Tanner, Helena High School
  • Grace Owens, Briarwood Christian School
  • Yesenia “Yesi” Villanueva, Chelsea High School
  • Abby Grace Walker, Thompson High School

Elementary School Educator nominees

  • Lauren Brady Akin, Forest Oaks Elementary School
  • Amy Allen, Calera Elementary School
  • Carrie Baker, Calera Intermediate School
  • Margaret Battle, Vincent Elementary School
  • Martha Bentley, Elvin Hill Elementary School
  • Erin Brunson, Creek View Elementary
  • Regina Valencia Dickens, Pelham Ridge Elementary
  • Jeri Feliciano, Pelham Oaks Elementary School
  • Brian Goodman, Thompson Intermediate School
  • Karen Guarino, Montevallo Elementary School
  • John Kyle Henderson, Oak Mountain Intermediate School
  • Darbe Hooten, Meadow View Elementary School
  • Keri Howard, Shelby Elementary
  • Randy Maxwell, Helena Intermediate School
  • Dana Nave, Wilsonville Elementary
  • Toni Redding, Helena Elementary School
  • Kristen Sanders, Inverness Elementary School
  • Mary Schuelly, Coosa Valley Academy
  • Austin Self, Chelsea Park Elementary
  • Jennifer Slovensky, Oak Mountain Elementary School
  • Caroline Trewhella, Mt. Laurel Elementary School

Middle School Educator nominees

  • Heath Butler, Chelsea Middle School
  • Dr. Meredith Collins, Pelham Park Middle School
  • Janet Griffith, Thompson Middle School
  • Jillian Harig, Vincent Middle High School
  • Shelia Jett, Montevallo Middle School
  • Ramona Jones, Coosa Valley Academy
  • Jana Lee, Calera Middle School
  • Anna McEntire, Helena Middle School
  • Gaye McKinnon, Oak Mountain Middle School
  • Samantha Pursley, Columbiana Middle School

High School Educator nominees

  • Shannon Acton, Chelsea High School
  • Natasha Cooper, Shelby County High School
  • Jeff Edwards, Coosa Valley Academy
  • Ashlee Hall, Vincent Middle High School
  • James Hill, Shelby County Career and Technical Center
  • Jake Huggins, Thompson High School
  • Lauren Ingram, Oak Mountain High School
  • Amy Knight, Helena High School
  • Michele Murray, Linda Nolen Learning Center
  • Milene Panzica, Montevallo High School
  • Juan Vasquez, Pelham High School
  • Patti Waldrip, Calera High School
  • Geoffrey Wymer, New Direction