Pelham City Schools honors teachers & support person of the year recipients

Published 11:45 am Tuesday, December 13, 2022

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By LIZZIE BOWEN | Staff Writer

PELHAM – Pelham City Schools congratulated the recipients of the teacher & support person of the year award.

Recipients were Karen Harrison and Bob Sherer from Pelham Oaks Elementary, Stacey Brown and Kaneesha McGinnis from Pelham Ridge Elementary, Lilly Walker Ward and Katie Gotham from Pelham Park Middle School and Tonya Hatch and Shelley Bates from Pelham High School.

“I was in class helping students with their alternative and biodegradable plastics project,” Recipient Lily Walker. “Mrs. Bogert, Dr. Ledbetter, Mr. Finch, Mrs. Melton and Mrs. Knight entered with a box of goodies and big smiles on their faces. At first, I was confused, and then I realized they were there to present the teacher of the year award. I was told that I was a finalist right before Thanksgiving, so the decision was made a few weeks later. I actually got married over Thanksgiving break and wrote my teacher of the year essay submission on my honeymoon in Jamaica.”

All recipients were photographed as they received the recognition, some were brought to tears of joy over being selected.

“I was absolutely honored and shocked when I received the award,” Walker said. “I was speechless, which my students will agree isn’t very often. From the bottom of my heart I believe that I teach amongst the most incredible educators. Pelham is a small community, but the quality of teachers here is unbelievable.”

Superintendent Dr. Ledbetter congratulated recipients, shook their hands and handed them the award.

This experience felt like a dream, Walker said.

“In life, and especially this profession, there are no grades to confirm your successes or failures, so we rely on the feedback we receive from others,” Walker said. “This award is the best validation that we are doing well. For a teacher, there is nothing better than to be recognized and appreciated for your hard work.”

Walker said her students were happy to see her receive such an honor and be awarded for her hard work.

“My students in sixth period cheered and clapped which was such an awesome moment,” Walker said. “I received lots of hugs and high-fives from students all day. However, the best reactions were the emails and messages I received from former students. One email even made me cry. I am so proud of all of my students, current and former, and I wouldn’t be half the teacher I am today without them. I have learned a lot more from them than they have from me.”

Walker had a tough year this year, undergoing major shoulder surgery, but has endured it all for her students.

“This has been the hardest year,” Walker said. “I spent the first two and a half months of school without the use of my dominant arm after having major shoulder surgery. Surgery left me feeling very defeated. We learn a lot about ourselves in the low moments and I love that this is a lesson in perseverance I can now share with my students.”

Kaneesha McGinnis was eating a late lunch when Dr. Ledbetter, the assistant principal and two other central office employees came to give her the news of her award.

“I love my job as a school nurse,” McGinnis said. “My coworkers as well as the kids bring excitement to my day, and I wouldn’t trade anything for them.”

More information about teachers of the year can be found at