Chamber to celebrate outstanding students, educators

Published 1:01 pm Wednesday, March 30, 2022


Shelby County’s leading students and educators for the 2021-2022 school year will be recognized on Wednesday, April 27 during The Shelby County Chamber’s annual “Student & Educator of the Year” program.

This ninth annual program is presented by America’s First Federal Credit Union. The program is also co-sponsored by Vulcan Materials, The University of Montevallo, and eCO Credit Union.

“The outstanding quality of life – which includes our schools throughout Shelby County – which we enjoy here continues to be one of the primary reasons businesses and families want to live here,” Kirk Mancer, the Chamber’s president & CEO said. “Once again, our volunteer judges had the opportunity to meet with an exceptional group of educators and students who were nominated this year.

“Based upon the 2021-22 nominees in all categories, the future truly is bright for our County and our municipalities in the coming years. We very much look forward to celebrating these students and educators on April 27,” Mancer said.

Schools throughout Shelby County were invited to submit an “academic leader stand out” 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 pathway/course of study and letters of recommendation. Each student was asked to attend an in-person interview with a panel of judges.

The Educator of the Year candidates were nominated in three categories – elementary, middle and high school — by their school principals. A panel of 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 student and educator nominees will be recognized during the April 27 program, and then the announcement of each recipient – two “Career Pathway Standout” students, two “Academic Leader Standout” students, 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 will be made.

The student recipients will receive a $1,000 cash award, and the educator recipients will receive a $750 cash award.

“The 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,” Mancer said.

To register for the program, visit

The 2021-2022 nominees in alphabetical order by school in each category are:

Academic Leader Standout – Student of the Year Nominees:
• Kelley Bush, Calera High School
• Samantha Kennedy, Chelsea High School
• Jacob Ritondo, Helena High School
• Olivia Gilbert, Montevallo High School
• Will Stone, Oak Mountain High School
• Austin Wallace, Pelham High School
• Isaura Hernandez-Landeros, Shelby County Career and Technical Education Center
• Kaili Williams, Shelby County High School
• Abigail McGee, Thompson High School
• Chloe Layton, Vincent High School

Career Pathway Standout – Student of the Year Nominees:
• Ethan Gray, Calera High School
• Jessie Holsombeck, Chelsea High School
• Riley Kate Hulsey, Helena High School
• Yulliana Gutierrez, Montevallo High School
• Khaled Zuaiter, Oak Mountain High School
• Avery Fuller, Pelham High School
• Cody Blackmon, Shelby County Career and Technical Education Center
• Jackson Glover, Shelby County High School
• Kelvin Mbote, Thompson High School
• Shawn Tressillian, Vincent Middle High School

Elementary School Educator Nominees:
• Dana Janney, Calera Elementary School
• Adelene Symons, Calera Elementary School
• Jacqueline Garrett, Chelsea Park Elementary School
• Jackie Killingsworth, Creek View Elementary School
• Emily Vansant, Elvin Hill Elementary School
• Leigh Sullivan, Forest Oaks Elementary School
• Patrick Riley, Helena Elementary School
• Christy Cordrey, Helena Intermediate School
• Niki Burke, Inverness Elementary School
• Bre Farmer, Meadow View Elementary School
• Amanda Hyslpo, Montevallo Elementary School
• Holly Jones, Mt. Laurel Elementary School
• Charelette Smith, Oak Mountain Elementary School
• Krista Bender, Oak Mountain Intermediate School
• Christina Ferguson, Pelham Oaks Elementary School
• Lisa Murphy, Pelham Ridge Elementary School
• Elizabeth Roberson, Shelby Elementary School
• Julia Lawrence, Thompson Intermediate School
• McKayla Hester, Vincent Elementary School
• Kerri Parker, Wilsonville Elementary School

Middle School Educator Nominees:
• Allie Carter, Calera Middle School
• Elizabeth Howard, Chelsea Middle School
• Elizabeth Birdsong, Columbiana Middle School
• Samantha Keaney, Helena Middle School
• Kelly Deason, Linda Nolen Learning Center
• Taleria Jackson, Montevallo Middle School
• Haley Gunnels, Oak Mountain Middle School
• Charlotte Clare Norris, Pelham Park Middle School
• Shana Webb, Thompson Middle School
• Kaylin Knox, Vincent Middle High School

High School Educator Nominees:
• Jason Hamlin, Calera High School
• Amy Hann, Chelsea High School
• Melissa Copeland, Helena High School
• Susan Hancock, Montevallo High School
• LaTasha Thomas, New Direction
• Vicki Jackson, Oak Mountain High School
• Justin Foster, Pelham High School
• William Blake Ray, Shelby County Career and Technical Education Center
• Rebecca Hicks, Shelby County High School
• McKenzie Wayman, Thompson High School
• Abigail Chappell, Vincent Middle High School