Honoring teachers who define 'great'

Posted 3/4/18

Teachers don’t just teach. Teachers inspire.That’s the gist of what inspirational writer William Arthur Ward (1921-1994) intended when he penned this oft-quoted maxim, “The mediocre teacher …

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Honoring teachers who define 'great'

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Teachers don’t just teach. Teachers inspire.

That’s the gist of what inspirational writer William Arthur Ward (1921-1994) intended when he penned this oft-quoted maxim, “The mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explains. The superior teacher demonstrates. The great teacher inspires.” 

We agree.

We also believe that’s what six of the best teachers in the Cleveland City and Bradley County school systems have in common. They do it all, and “all” involves telling, explaining and demonstrating. But mostly, as Ward pinpoints, they inspire.

Yet, that’s just the beginning.

When it comes to the students entrusted to their care, great teachers go far beyond anything found in a textbook or picked up during in-service training.

They listen.

They advise.

They encourage.

They empower.

They sympathize.

They empathize.

They emphasize.

They protect.

They nurture.

They assist.

They reflect.

They challenge.

Most importantly, they care.

And beyond that, they show they care. Theirs is not token lip service. Theirs are genuine words and deeds.

Great teachers understand the boundaries, but they also recognize a child’s need … at whatever age: elementary or high school, and most critically, everything and everyone in the in-between.

In a recent Sunday edition, the Cleveland Daily Banner — at the top of front page, which is exactly where it should have been positioned — announced the 2018-19 district-level Teachers of the Year.

In Cleveland City Schools, they included:

• Krislyn Martin (grades pre-K through 4), who is a first-grade teacher at Arnold Memorial Elementary School;

• Joshua Foggin (grades 5-8), an eighth-grade social studies teacher at Cleveland Middle School; and

• Valerie Capps (grades 9-12), an Algebra II and Pre-Calculus teacher at Cleveland High School.

In Bradley County Schools, they included:

• Adelia Hall (grades pre-K through 4), a second-grade teacher at Oak Grove Elementary School;

• Denise George (grades 5-8), the library and media specialist at Charleston Elementary School; and 

• LeAnn Klepzig (grades 9-12), who teaches 10th-grade English Language Arts and 9-12 Bible as Literature at Walker Valley High School.

Words we use within the pages of this newspaper to praise the work, and the unconditional commitment, of great teachers is one thing. Hearing what others say about them — their peers, supervisors and principals — is quite another.

It has been said of evaluations of a worker’s performance that peers can be the toughest. If this is true — and we believe it is — then earning high accolades from this group is all the more telling of a person’s significance in the classroom.

Consider these excerpts from others in describing the work of the six local district-level Teachers of the Year:

• “… She knows the needs of each child in her classroom.”

• “… She knows what it takes for students to learn.”

• “… He is energetic in the classroom.”

• “… She is well-loved by her students.”

• “… We are so blessed to have such a dynamic individual.”

• “… Her heart is that of a leader and learner.”

• “… Dedicated teachers like this are critical to their students’ success.”

Truly, it is the words of those who know teachers best that truly define who they are, what they represent and why they give true meaning to words like “great,” “inspiring” and “loved.”

Speaking of great teachers, we should also mention these … the educators who were named building-level Teachers of the Year. It is from this list that the six district-level honorees were named.

In Cleveland City Schools, building-level Teachers of the Year included:

• Arnold Memorial Elementary: Krislyn Martin;

• Blythe Bower Elementary: Frances Durham;

• Cleveland High School: John Brose, Valerie Capps and Andi Wendorf;

• Cleveland Middle School: Joshua Foggin, Allen Harrell and Ashley Meagher;

• Mayfield Elementary: Lauren Steward;

• E.L. Ross Elementary: Laura Cathell;

• F.I. Denning Center: Amy Dantzler;

• Stuart Elementary: Denise Longley; and

• Yates Primary: Molly Jackson.

In Bradley County Schools, building-level Teachers of the Year included:

• Black Fox Elementary: Melissa Beaty and Denise Jones;

• Bradley Central High School: Paula Deal and Keri Ivester;

• Charleston Elementary: Bethany Purser and Denise George;

• Goal Academy: Gary Peltier;

• Hopewell Elementary: Aimee Passavant and Kelly Jackson;

• Lake Forest Middle School: Alex Maxwell and Sara Rusk;

• Michigan Avenue Elementary: Trisha Frazier and Candy Wiggins;

• North Lee Elementary: Kelli Earhart and Chris Doan;

• Oak Grove Elementary: Adelia Hall and Dawn Puckett;

• Ocoee Middle School: Beth Finnell and Jennifer Turner;

• Park View Elementary School: Summer Harbison;

• Prospect Elementary: Jody Dockery and Kim Still;

• Taylor Elementary: Jenny Cole and Leah Hughes;

• Valley View Elementary: Bradley Reese and Chase Smartt;

• Walker Valley High School: Linda Dyszkiewicz and LeAnn Kelpzig; and

• Waterville Elementary: Brynn Geren and Jeff Walker.

The six district-level Teachers of the Year — Martin, Foggin, Capps, George, Hall and Kepzig — are now in the running for Regional and Tennessee Teacher of the Year, an annual initiative coordinated by the Tennessee Department of Education. Finalists should be named within the next few days.

We congratulate each of these Cleveland and Bradley County educators.

Teaching is a challenging, but personally rewarding, profession. And when done right, it inspires a new generation.


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