Calera, OM teachers named Shelby County Schools Teachers of the Year

Published 4:54 pm Friday, December 8, 2023

By NOAH WORTHAM | Staff Writer 

ALABASTER – Calera’s Anna Mcentire and Chris Oravet as well as Oak Mountain’s Jill Vaughan have been named as Shelby County Schools Teachers of the Year.

Teachers and staff from Shelby County Schools gathered together to recognize the school system’s Teachers of the Year during a celebration on Thursday, Dec. 7 at the Shelby County Instructional Services Center in Alabaster.

During the celebration, SCS recognized the teachers of the year from each school in the district. Afterward, the school system named its overall teachers of the year for elementary school, middle school and high school which were nominated by a committee.

“I’d like to acknowledge what a difficult task the nomination committee had before them,” Deputy Superintendent Lynn Carroll said. “It’s heartfelt when I say that you are amazing educators, and we are blessed to have you in the Shelby County family.”

Each overall Teacher of the Year winner was announced through a reveal video that simultaneously surprised nominees while also showcasing the impact each teacher has on their respective school.

Jill Vaughan of Oak Mountain Elementary School was revealed as the Shelby County Schools Elementary School Teacher of the Year.

“It’s a big surprise and it’s a great honor to teach with so many fine people and great leaders,” Vaughan said. “It just feels like win for the whole team.”

Vaughan has been teaching for 9 years and has been at Oak Mountain Elementary for the entirety of her career. Vaughan’s students are known around the school as “Miss V’s bees” and are said to be highly engaged in rich learning experiences.

Chris Oravet of Calera of Middle School was chosen as the Shelby County Schools Middle School Teacher of the Year.

“It’s humbling,” he said. “I’ve been teaching for a long time and to be able to this in a county this big is very much an honor. It’s the best job in the world. I didn’t really see it coming, I do my job every single day like I always do and then to be able to get this recognition—this hasn’t really sunken in quite yet.”

Oravet has been teaching for 12 years and has been at Calera Middle School for nine of them. Oravet was described as an innovative educator who is always willing to collaborate with his team to create memorable experiences for students.

Anna Mcentire of Calera High School was selected as the Shelby County Schools High School Teacher of the Year.

“I’m incredibly humbled and shocked and it’s a just a joy and honor to be named teacher of the year,” she said. “I was not expecting it but I absolutely love the school district, I love these colleagues that I get to work with every day. It was an honor to even be named Calera High School Teacher of the Year. To be among these incredible, well-respected, best-of-the-best teachers—I’m still processing it and am just overwhelmed with gratitude.”

Mcentire has served as a teacher for 12 years and has been at Calera High School for two of them. Mcentire was described as an amazing asset to the students, school and community of Calera High School.

During the celebration, SCS Superintendent Dr. Lewis Brooks delivered an address to those in attendance on the importance of the event.

“Today is one of my favorite events of the school year because we get to honor and celebrate the (lifeblood) of our school district,” he said. “We are blessed to have so many wonderful teachers throughout Shelby County, but today, we recognize teachers chosen by their peers, colleagues and friends as the best of the best.”

Brooks said that Shelby County believes that teachers change lives and provided reasoning as to why.

“Great teachers make learning fun by having stimulating, engaging thought-provoking lessons that are just so critical to academic success,” he said. “Making the classroom an exciting environment for learning will hold the spirit of the students’ curiosity and interest. Student learn best when they are both challenged and interested.”

Great teachers are an inspiration. Every teacher has the opportunity to inspire hard work and encourage students to pursue a goal. some of us were even inspired to become educators because of great teachers.”

The following teachers were selected by their respective schools as Elementary School Teachers of the Year

  • Sarah Harris—Calera Elementary School
  • Brittany Brasher—Calera Intermediate School
  • Karen Pruitt—Chelsea Park Elementary School
  • Kayla Mizell—Elvin Hill Elementary School
  • Mary Maines—Forest Oaks Elementary School
  • Dana Ling—Helena Elementary School
  • Holly Ritchey—Helena Intermediate School
  • Holly Browder—Inverness Elementary School
  • Courtney Borden—Linda Nolen Learning Center
  • Teresa Burden—Montevallo Elementary School
  • Rebecca Newman—Mt Laurel Elementary School
  • Jill Vaughan—Oak Mountain Elementary School
  • Dana W. Furman—Oak Mountain Intermediate School
  • Lisa Carden—Shelby Elementary School
  • Ashley Waldrop—Vincent Elementary School
  • Laura Wright—Wilsonville Elementary School

The following teachers were selected by their respective schools as Middle School Teachers of the Year

  • Christopher Oravet—Calera Middle School
  • Brittany Bisch—Chelsea Middle School
  • Patrick Smail—Columbiana Middle School
  • Olivia Carroll—Helena Middle School
  • Peggy Huckabaa—Montevallo Middle School
  • Catherine Acton—Oak Mountain Middle School
  • Cory Williams—Vincent Middle School

The following teachers were selected by their respective schools as High School Teachers of the Year

  • Anna Mcentire—Calera High School
  • Frankie Stroud—Career Technical Educational Center
  • Leslie Stephenson—Chelsea High School
  • Lindsey Rigdon—Helena High School
  • Rachel O’Connor—Montevallo High School
  • Michelle Bullock—New Direction
  • Taylor Korson—Oak Mountain High School
  • Natasha Cooper—Shelby County High School
  • Marshall Thomas—Vincent Middle/High School