Shelby County Chamber awards Student, Educator of the Year

Published 10:59 am Tuesday, April 23, 2024

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COLUMBIANA – Educators and students from across the county gathered in the Grande Hall of the Shelby County Arts Council in Columbiana for the 2023-2024 Student and Educator of the Year Awards on Wednesday, April 17.

Hosted by the Shelby County Chamber and sponsored by AmFirst, the award ceremony recognized excellence in the classroom and throughout the community by honoring outstanding students and educators in Shelby County.

The ceremony began with Warren Averett COO and the Shelby County Chamber of Commerce Chair April Harry commenting on the importance of teachers and schools on the community at large.

“I love being able to be in this position and represent the county where I live, worship and— probably the most important—it’s where my children are educated,” Harry said. “We’ve been very blessed with our education system here in our county.”

The presenting sponsor of the award ceremony was AmFirst. According to Bill Connor, president and CEO of AmFirst, the company considers it a privilege to be able to sponsor the event.

“We’re really interested in obviously being an active part of the communities that we support,” Connor said. “We certainly value all of our educators in what you do for our students in the county.”

Educators were recognized in three categories, divided by the age level in which they teach, while the students were nominated in two categories, academic leadership and career pathway.

According to Cami Hammond of the Shelby County Chamber, each award recipient received a cash prize in addition to a certificate.

“For the student recipients, the funds are intended to be used to continue their education and career development,” Hammond said. “For the teachers, we encourage these funds to be used as they see fit in their classrooms.”

At the elementary level, Shelby Elementary School’s Lisa Carden earned the honor of Elementary School Educator of the year.


Other nominees in the elementary category included:

-Sara Harris – Calera Elementary School

-Brittany Brasher – Calera Intermediate School

-Karen Epperson – Chelsea Park Elementary)

-Melody Baker – Coosa Valley Academy

-Bonnie Maddox – Creek View Elementary

-Kayla Mizell – Elvin Hill Elementary School

-Mary Maines – Forest Oaks Elementary School

-Dana Ling – Helena Elementary School

-Holly Ritchey – Helena Intermediate School

-Crystal Knezek – Inverness Elementary School

-Teresa Borden – Montevallo Elementary School

-Rebecca Newman – Mt. Laurel Elementary School

-Jill Vaughan – Oak Mountain Elementary School

-Dana Furman – Oak Mountain Intermediate School

-Leah Gott – Pelham Oaks Elementary School

-Amanda Toxey – Pelham Ridge Elementary

-Chelsea Shanks – Thompson Intermediate School

-Ashley Waldrop – Vincent Elementary School

-Laura Wright – Wilsonville Elementary School


For the middle school category, Brittany Bisch of Chelsea Middle School received the distinction of Middle School Educator of the Year.


The other middle school nominees were:

-Christopher Oravet – Calera Middle School

-Patrick Smail – Columbiana Middle School

-Olivia Carroll – Helena Middle School

-Peggy Huckabaa – Montevallo Middle School

-Catherine Acton – Oak Mountain Middle School

-Michael Corey Williams – Vincent Middle School


In the high school category, two educators were selected and tied for the title of High School Educator of the Year. The two teachers that shared the honor were Calera High School’s Anna McEntire and Thompson High School’s Joseph Alex Levinson.


The other nominees for High School Educator of the Year included:

-Shawn Baker – Coosa Valley Academy

-Lindsey Rigdon – Helena High School

-Rachel O’Connor – Montevallo High School

-Taylor Korson – Oak Mountain High School

-Frankie Stroud – Shelby County Career and Technical Education Center)

-Natasha Cooper – Shelby County High School

-Marshall Thomas – Vincent High School


As for the student awards, two recipients were selected for the two main categories.  For the Academic Leader, the two students awarded were Tucker Bremer of Helena High School and Marisol Alvarado Resendiz of Thompson High School.


Other nominees in the Academic Leader category included:

-Caleb Chapman – Briarwood Christian School

-Noah Carlisle – Calera High School

-Elias Serrano – Chelsea High School

-Trinity Thomas – Coosa Valley Academy

-Allie Herring – Montevallo High School

-Abigail Moore – Oak Mountain High School

-Ian Chambers – Pelham High School

-Jackson Fancher – Shelby County Career and Technical Education Center

-Katie McDonald – Shelby County High School

-Chloey Carroll – Vincent High School


The other category was the student award for Career Pathway. The two student winners in this category were Jessica Joy Ferguson of Pelham High School and and Preston Green of Vincent High School.

Other nominees for the Career Pathway award included:

-Joshua Smith – Calera High School

-Kameron Yellock – Chelsea High School

-Brycen Wilson – Coosa Valley Academy

-Kayla Woods – Helena High School

-Emily Pennington – Montevallo High School

-Julius Lappalainen – Oak Mountain High School

-Maggie Priborsky – Shelby County Career and Technical Education Center

-Dylan Phillips – Shelby County High School

-Jake Schniper – Thompson High School


In addition, Luke Long of Briarwood Christian School won the award for Future Leader of the Year.