SCBOE awards teachers at final meeting

Published 12:10 pm Tuesday, May 21, 2024

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 ALABASTER – During their final meeting of the year on Thursday, May 16, the Shelby County Board of Education celebrated the efforts of teachers and staff throughout the school year and presented multiple teachers with awards.

The first award presented at the meeting was the Journey Shaper Award. According to Superintendent Lewis Brooks, the SCBOE created the Journey Shaper Award to recognize individuals in the school district that do extraordinary things and inspire others to do great work.

The first recipient, Carrie Uptain, is a physical education teacher at Mt Laurel Elementary School. Not only was she recognized for her contributions to improving the lives of students, but Uptain was also commended for donating her kidney to some one in need.

“The thing (about Uptain) that I was most impressed with is her selflessness and her willingness and humanity in helping someone else improve their quality of life,” Brooks said. “For someone to give that ultimate gift to someone, I think it’s really worthy of recognizing. It’s certainly a representation of the caliber of people that we want to serve our students here in Shelby County.”

The second recipient of the Journey Shaper Award is Brian Boatman, a SCBOE board member that was diagnosed with ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. Although Boatman could not be in attendance at the meeting, Brooks shared that the board will travel to present him with the Journey Shaper Award.

“During his time serving on the board, (Boatman) was committed to serving kids,” Brooks said. “He was committed to see things in our district get better. We are very honored that he was willing and has been willing to serve our board and care so much about Shelby County Schools and our students.”

The next round of awards focused on excellence in the classroom and recognized the day to day service of educators.

As we think about instruction, as we think about all our students in Shelby County Schools, we know that the number one thing to impact instruction and to provide that excellence that we want to provide is you—the teachers that are in the classroom every day,” Assistant Superintendent of Instruction Lynn Carrol said.

Each year, the instructional depart of the SCBOE partners with the Shelby County Education Foundation to recognize first year teachers that demonstrate exemplary performance during their first year of teacher. There are two recipients, one at the elementary level and one at the secondary level.

Lily Langford, a music teacher at Elvin Hill Elementary School, was named the Elementary First Year Teacher of the Year. Langford is a true local of Shelby County, having attended Helena High School and graduated from the University of Montevallo.

In a prepared statement read aloud at the meeting, EHES Principal Courtney Madison shared what makes Langford a pleasure to work with.

“Her passion for music, teaching and learning resonates daily, as she has cultivated a love of music for our students who now eagerly look forward to what awaits them each week,” Madison wrote. “You will find that she is synonymous with punctuality, dependability, self-sufficiency, compassion, inquisitiveness, inclusivity, patience, respect and engagement.”

At the secondary level, Ira Fannin of Chelsea Middle School received the Secondary First Year Teacher of the Year. Despite this being his first year teaching, it is not his first year in the workforce as Fannin has over a decade of experience in the restaurant industry.

In a prepared statement, Chelsea Middle School Principal Cynthia Cruce shared what makes Fannin such a valuable asset to the school.

“Fannin is respected by his colleagues and students,” Cruce said. “He treats everyone respectfully and is genuine in his interactions.  He is always supportive of the students, and with that support, his students are drawn to him. Fannin is not only a great teacher, but also an exceptional individual. His passion for education, innovative spirit and genuine care for his students make him an invaluable member of our school community.”

Three more teachers were awarded with the Owens-Young Memorial Technology Innovation Award—named after two former Shelby County Schools employees, Denise Owens and Michael Young—which recognizes teachers that are trailblazers for technology integration in their schools.

The three teachers are Hollyanna Nolen from Inverness Elementary School, Sydni Taylor from Chelsea Middle School and Robert Kirk from Chelsea High School.

In addition to awarding teachers, two educators announced the next steps in their careers at the meeting.

The current principal of Helena Elementary School, Genet Holcomb, will build upon her 31 years of education experience as she moves to her next role as Shelby County Schools’ Elementary School Coordinator.


“I take this next step with commitment to be my very best,” Holcomb said. “I also look forward to working with the academic resources that have been provided by the elementary instruction department and the incredible teachers and principals.”

Meanwhile, Helena Middle School principal Mathew Epps is transitioning to become the principal at the Career Technical Education Center

“I would like to just express my thanks to my wife and kids,” Epps said. “They allow me to be shared with many students in Shelby County Schools. I’m very grateful and honored to serve the students of Shelby County. A big thanks to the teachers, faculty and staff at Helena Middle School. It would be remiss of me if I did not thank Henry Long and Christine Glover, two of the best (assistant principals) in the school district for how much they challenged me and helped me grow in the role of principal.”