A surprise ice cream party was thrown at Mayfield Elementary Friday afternoon in honor of Christy Duncan’s advancement to the state level of the Tennessee Teacher of the Year competition.
Students began filing into the gym at 2:30 for what they believed was an afternoon school safety presentation. Teachers were alerted to the surprise, but were told to keep the information from Duncan.
Principal Kelly Kiser grabbed the microphone and announced the safety talk was a disguise for another event. Duncan was requested to join Kiser in the middle of the gym.
“I really thought it was a safety assembly,” Duncan said later. “I am shocked by the whole thing.”
Kiser explained Duncan was up for teacher of the year at the state level. His announcement was met by rousing cheers by the young students.
The English as a Second Language teacher was surprised by the applause and shouts, “I never thought they would be as excited about that as they were.”
Charles Brock, Blue Bell Ice Cream territory operations manager, was then invited to join Duncan in front of the bleachers.
He announced not only would Duncan be awarded a month of free ice cream, but the whole student body would receive an ice cream party.
The children roared with joy. Immediately kids began screaming, clapping their hands and stomping their feet. They looked back and forth at each other in the midst of their celebration and shouted louder.
“That made my day hearing all those kids scream,” Brock said. “I was expecting them to be happy. I wasn’t expecting them to be that loud. They were great kids.”
Brock has worked at Blue Bell for nine years. He explained this is only the sixth or seventh time he has made this type of presentation.
“One of the things we like to do is honor excellence,” Brock said. “So for teacher of the year nominees, and Blue Ribbon schools, we like to provide the whole school and the teacher with ice cream. It is just a way to show our appreciation.”
There are around 400 English as a Second Language students in the city school system. Seventy-five of these students attend Mayfield Elementary. Duncan and her fellow ESL teacher work with them on a daily basis.
She said the recognition she has received for the competition is due to her students.
“They face a lot of challenges. I realize they face a lot of challenges. If they weren’t here, then I wouldn’t be here,” Duncan said. “If they didn’t have that need, then I wouldn’t be here doing the work I do to help them.”
Being selected as teacher of the year would allow Duncan to discuss the needs of ESL students at the state level.
All of the requirements for the competition have been met. A banquet will be held for all of the state finalists on Oct. 3 in Nashville.
“I continue to be grateful for this honor and the people I work with. We are having a great year so far,” Duncan said. “Our principal, Kelly Kiser, was also nominated as principal of the year, so I think it is neat that we both have gotten that honor this year.”
Kiser said Duncan is deserving of the recognition.
“It shows all the people in the school hard work pays off and dedication pays off,” Kiser said. “People recognize that and they see that. Ms. Duncan would fly under the radar all the time, if she could, but people recognize excellence.”