Pelham honors its teachers with Panther Pride awards

Published 3:29 pm Tuesday, October 4, 2022

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By LIZZIE BOWEN | Staff Writer

PELHAM – Pelham City Schools honored its top educators recently with one of the top universities in the country also weighing in on the matter.

Four staff members of Pelham City Schools were selected as recipients of the Panther Pride award and honored through the Board of Education.

Michelle LeSuer is a Pelham High School college and career counselor and Rebecca Burnett is a Pelham High School English teacher. Both received the Yale Educators of the Year award. This is a prestigious award distributed through Yale University.

“The class of 2026 was asked to nominate outstanding educators who deeply impacted their lives,” Superintendent of Pelham City Schools Dr. Chuck Ledbetter said. “Nico Ramos, PHS graduate of 2022 nominated both of these outstanding educators and they were selected by the office of undergraduate admissions from Yale.”

Nico Ramos received a full scholarship to Yale after graduating from Pelham High School in 2022 and felt that these two teachers should be acknowledged for their contributions to student life and success on campus.

Yale Office of Undergraduate admissions reviewed over 339 nominations represented 43 states and 21 countries. Yale selected 48 teachers and 29 counselors to be honored with award, two of those recipients being Pelham’s very own LeSuer and Burnett.

“We want to say congratulations to them,” Ledbetter said. “We are also very proud of Nico and of all our graduates. We are proud of the things they do after they leave here and glad that they remember home.”

Chef Doug Allen is a culinary arts teacher at Pelham High School and was recognized as the 2022 Educator of Excellence by the Alabama Restaurant and Hospitality Association.  More than 145 students are involved in Pelham High School’s culinary arts academy.

Under Allen’s direction, both culinary and management teams won first place in the 2022 Alabama Prostar Student Invitational.

“I wanted to take time to recognize him,” Ledbetter said. “We knew he had done well. We are excited about the program and what chef Allen is doing.”

Allen is happy to be working with the Pelham City School System and equates a lot of success to them.

“I am so blessed to be working in a school system that supports our efforts so fully here at Pelham City Schools,” Allen said. “I know that without the administration’s support, we could not provide the students with the tools and resources to make them successful in the culinary arts.”

Allen said he loves to see the passions students exhibit and the success he has seen them have throughout his time as a teacher.

“All through my 50-plus years in this profession, I have really enjoyed seeing others excel and go onto bigger and better things,” Allen said. “The same holds true with students.”

Allen said that students are currently being recruited into a variety of different places of employment and are exhibiting the utmost respect for the culinary arts.

“Right now, we have students working at very well-respected operations and are being recruited by employers every time we show up at an event,” Allen said. “We have about 20 students that come after school for three hours every Wednesday for our competition team practice. They have the passion to spend their time with our program and I am happy to spend my time sharing my passion with them.”

Hannah Rodgers is a Pelham Park Middle School science teacher and was selected as the mentor for the 2022-2023 NEA Foundation Global Learning Fellowship.

“The NEA Foundation has this program for teachers called Global Learning Fellowship,” Rodgers said. “It is a lovely professional development that teaches teachers about global education and how it can positively impact students. With it comes an international field study.”

Rodgers takes pride in representing her school.

“I am proud to represent Pelham Park Middle School and Pelham City Schools in this wonderful opportunity,” Rodgers said. “I am so excited.”

Stacey Brown is a Pelham Ridge Elementary School STEM teacher and received national board certification in STEM.

“She has completed national STEM certification and that is a big deal,” Ledbetter said. “It is another feather in the cap and we have great faculty here. The Board has done a really good job of setting up supports for our faculty to create a culture that people want to work in. We are excited to see these things.”

More information on the panther pride awards can be found at