Two local teachers named to Final Four list for state’s Teacher of the Year award

Published 9:36 am Wednesday, May 3, 2023

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By ALEC ETHEREDGE | Managing Editor 

MONTGOMERY – Two teachers who pour into their jobs in Shelby County received one of the biggest honors of the year on Tuesday, May 2 when the Alabama State Department of Education trimmed down their list of Teacher of the Year candidates to four.

Both Jeff Norris, a teacher at Oak Mountain Middle School, and Kevin Pughsley, a teacher at Berry Middle School, were named two of this year’s four finalists when the list was cut from 16 down to the final four.

Norris, who is a sixth-grade math teacher at OMMS, has been described by his peers as an innovative teacher, who goes the extra mile to create engaging lesson plans with the students to make learning fun and get his kids involved.

“Mr. Norris is probably one of the more versatile teachers I have ever seen,” OMMS Principal Larry Haynes said after Norris was named the Shelby County Schools Teacher of the Year. “He is always enthusiastic and energetic. His classrooms are full of action every day.”

Students also describe him as caring and kind, adding that he is a teacher you remember and one who inspires.

“Todd Whitaker says that the best thing about teaching is that it matters, and the hardest thing about teaching is that it matters every day,” Norris said in a previous interview. “So, to hear that from my peers, is definitely eye opening and humbling and all those other things and just little bit embarrassing at the pep rally.”

As for Pughsley, he has earned several accolades as a science teacher at Berry Middle School as part of Hoover City Schools, and now, he’s earned his way into being named one of the state’s top four teachers.

“I am grateful and humbled to be recognized amongst so many great educators in our state while representing Berry Middle School and Hoover City Schools,” Pughsley said. “I appreciate all of the teachers, administrators and colleagues I have worked with over the past 17 years in education. Thank you for always pushing me and challenging me to be a better teacher than the day before.”

He was also thankful for his wife’s support in helping inspire his hard work as an educator.

Pughsley was named the Hoover City Schools Secondary Teacher of the Year to earn the opportunity.

The Alabama Teacher of the Year Program is a recognition program that honors teachers throughout the state. In conjunction with the National Teacher of the Year Program that began in 1952, the program is one of the most prestigious teacher recognition programs in the country.

The Alabama Teacher of the Year will be named later this month along with the alternate.