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Vidalia BOE Recognizes Teachers of the Year

Vidalia BOE Recognizes Teachers of the Year
RECOGNIZING EXCELLENCE — The Vidalia City School System recognized its four Teachers of the Year at a regular monthly meeting of the Board of Education on January 10. Each awardee received a commemorative plaque and will be financially rewarded for their work. Front row, L to R: Elissa Blount, Stephanie Wardlaw, Janna Palmer, Heather Stanley. Back row, L to R: Bruce Mulkey, Sandy Reid, Scott Stephens, Brandon Boston.
Vidalia BOE Recognizes Teachers of the Year
RECOGNIZING EXCELLENCE — The Vidalia City School System recognized its four Teachers of the Year at a regular monthly meeting of the Board of Education on January 10. Each awardee received a commemorative plaque and will be financially rewarded for their work. Front row, L to R: Elissa Blount, Stephanie Wardlaw, Janna Palmer, Heather Stanley. Back row, L to R: Bruce Mulkey, Sandy Reid, Scott Stephens, Brandon Boston.

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During the regularly scheduled meeting of the Vidalia Board of Education on January 10, the Board, along with superintendent Dr. Garrett Wilcox, took time to honor the Teachers of the Year for each school.

J.D. Dickerson Primary School J.D. Dickerson Primary School Principal Brandon Boston introduced the school’s Teacher of the Year Heather Stanley. 'At J.D.D., we're all about the team, and I'm blessed with an amazing team,' said Boston. 'Tonight, we're here to recognize one of our teammates as our Teacher of the Year. At JDD, our goal is to give every kid a strong foundation academically, behaviorally, socially, and emotionally, and she does that day in and day out. She loves her kids, past and present. The other day, we had a kid who's in first grade. He's moving, but he had to see Ms. Stanley before he left, and that shows you the impact that she makes on her kids.'

Boston continued, 'She's done pre-K for close to 10 years. Think about that. It's what I say is organized chaos, but through everything she does you see the love and care she has for her kids.'

One of Stanley’s coworkers further praised her, 'I would have to say in this day and age that she is truly one of the educators God has called.'

Stanley thanked everyone and shared her sentiments on the award. “I don't know what else I can say. I have the best team, as you can see, and I am honored to be at J.D. Dickerson. Mr. Boston is fantastic, and I love what I do. I absolutely adore the children, and I love that I get to influence these kids and that I get to invest in them.'

Sally D. Meadows Elementary School Principal Scott Stephens began his presentation of Sally D. Meadows Elementary School’s Teacher of the Year, as he remarked, 'Vidalia stands for excellence, and nobody embodies that more than Ms. Janna Palmer, and I say that for a number of reasons. First, I've got teachers on the second-grade hall that are three years younger than Stetson Bennett, and so, I needed somebody who could bridge the gap and lead these young women and be able to deal with the veteran teachers.

“Ms. Palmer bridges that gap for me. She has become the second-grade team leader, and she has done this with such variance and so much discipline and love and she cherishes that moment each and every day, and she mentors our young teachers. She works well with our veterans and she is a mentor for not only the special education teachers, but for the general education teachers as well. She's done a phenomenal job.'

Palmer began by emphasizing her thankfulness to those who helped her in this achievement. 'I want to thank my parents who have supported me in every single way. Also, to Mr. Stevens and Mr. Helms, who always backed me no matter what I had on my plate, and also, Megan Williams and Bricyn [Fitzgerald], who keep me sane. They're my co-teachers, and they're here, and I couldn't do what I do without them. So, thank you. Also thanks to Ms. Cooper who's been a mentor to me and just one of the best friends that I have. So, thank you very much. I appreciate it,” she emphasized.

J.R. Trippe Middle School J.R. Trippe Principal Dr. Sandy Reid began her presentation by saying, 'I have the privilege and honor of introducing our Teacher of the Year at J. R. Tripp, who is one of the most, charismatic, bighearted individuals you will ever meet, Stephanie Wardlaw.'

Reid remarked, 'People that I know say that her personality is so big it fills any room that she walks into.' She described Wardlaw as a champion in every sense of the word. 'Champion is being a person who fights for and defends what's right and honorable and fights for something that's important to them.'

Reid concluded, 'Every child needs a champion, and every child needs somebody in their corner, and Ms. Wardlaw ensures every child has that person in their corner. She really is a big-picture person. She's not just about immediate academic needs. It's not about immediate physical needs. It's not about the long-term. It's about the whole picture — and that's what she does. She is a champion for the whole child, and she always backs every child and tries to get them what they need.'

Wardlaw told the Board, 'I would like to thank God for this opportunity to be able to allow teaching to be a part of my ministry. I see this as something that God has put in me, put in my DNA to be able to give back to everybody else. I might not know how to do it, but I'll find somebody who can do it so that those students will have the opportunities that they deserve, regardless of where they're from. They can become positive contributors to the community so that our community can grow.'

Vidalia High School

Vidalia High School Principal Bruce Mulkey began his introduction of his school’s Teacher of the Year recipient by telling the Board, 'I have the honor of not only introducing the high school's Teacher of the Year but also our School System Teacher of the Year.'

He noted, 'Tonight's it's difficult to stand in front of you and to articulate why Elissa Blount is worthy of this recognition, but there are three things I want to talk about. First, she is a master teacher and she's a master at her craft. In my opinion, everything we do as teachers falls into one of two categories.'

Mulkey added, 'It's the science of teaching and the art of teaching. Science of teaching is the research, whether it be brain research, it's best practices, all of those things that we know that people have studied about teaching that will make us better; and then the art of teaching is a little more difficult, and that is that ‘get’ factor. You know, the ability to connect with kids that others have a hard time with, the ability to make adjustments on the fly, to have a plan to go in and realize quickly this is not working and to be able to make an adjustment and to pull something positive out of that lesson. Most of us, as educators can do one or two of these things very well; master teachers do both of those very well, and Elissa certainly falls into that category.'

He added that while Blount is at the top of her profession, 'she also has a relentless pursuit of getting better.' Mulkey said, 'The last thing and what is most important to me is that she's a role model for all of the teachers in our building. When I talk about a role model, Elissa has been out in front of the changes we are making to get even better. Although she's the best in our building, she understands what we're trying to do, and she has a role; she's a role model for other teachers, and I'm forever grateful for that,” he explained.

Blount said, 'It truly is an honor to be in this position. As a little girl, all I wanted to do was teach, and I knew that was a calling on my life that God had placed there. To live your dream every day, you know, there's something magical about that. There's something awesome about it.'

She continued, “So, I am truly honored to be considered the High School Teacher of the Year and the System Teacher of the Year. It is one of the best systems ever, even if it's the only place I've ever taught. I had Ms. Morris, I had Ms. Roper, I had excellent teachers in my life that inspired me, and because of their inspiration, I'm able to do that with the students that I teach, so thank you so much!'

The Teachers of the Year and the System Teacher of the Year all received a plaque and will each receive a monetary award from the Vidalia City School System.

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