SCS recognizes First-Year Teachers of the Year

COLUMBIANA – Two Shelby County Schools teachers were honored at the Board of Education’s Sept. 24 meeting for their work in the first year of their careers.

Calera Elementary kindergarten teacher Tiffany Hayes was named the Shelby County Elementary First Year Teacher of the Year, and Chelsea Middle sixth-grade social studies teacher Brad Acre was named the Shelby County Secondary First Year Teacher of the Year for the previous school year.

The BOE would have honored Hayes and Acre in May, but the COVID-19 pandemic delayed the recognition, which is sponsored by the Shelby County Education Foundation.

Deputy Superintendent Dr. Lynn Carroll read nominee essays from Hayes and Acre.

In her essay, Hayes wrote every day of her first year of teaching brought new challenges and opportunities for her to learn and grow to better herself and her students.

“My classroom became a second home for my group of 21 students, and their classmates became their family,” Hayes wrote. “By integrating social emotional learning, my class came together and created a supportive atmosphere where they are able to express their thoughts and emotions. I helped my students understand themselves and each other and how important each one of them are.”

Hayes wrote the key pieces of advice she came up with during the past year are to be flexible, confident and present.

“Be flexible because every day has new challenges and situations that cannot be predicted,” she wrote. “Be confident in the classroom culture you created with your students. Be present for your students, allowing them to connect with you and feel the love you have for them.”

Chelsea Middle School sixth-grade social studies teacher Brad Acre, second from right, was honored as the Shelby County Secondary First Year Teacher of the Year for the previous school year. (Reporter Photo/Emily Sparacino)

In his essay, Acre wrote he did not know how much fun teaching would be from an academic standpoint and the joy of building relationships with students.

“It took me by surprise how often I found myself laughing with my students and connecting with them on a personal level,” Acre wrote. “It was amazing to see the sheer amount of talent that each of my students possessed whether it be in art, music, academics, reading, sports or so many other things.”

Acre wrote he was not expecting the flood of emotions that came after learning staff and students would not have the chance to go back to school to have one last class.

“I was not expecting the positive and encouraging words I received from students during our e-learning experience,” Acre wrote. “I was not expecting emails from students about historical shows they were fascinated with because of my class. I didn’t expect any of this, but I am immeasurably grateful to have experienced it.”