Fourteen educators have been nominated for this year’s Liberty County School System Teacher of the Year honor. Each was chosen as their individual school’s teacher of the year. This is the second part of the Courier’s effort to profile these dedicated educators before the system-wide teacher of the year is announced next week.
These educators will be recognized during the district’s annual teacher of the year celebration, “A Night to Remember,” at 6 p.m. Thursday at Bradwell Institute. Tickets cost $7 and can be purchased in the personnel department at the system’s central office.
Fifth-grade teacher Kelly Greene was named Liberty Elementary School’s teacher of the year.
“I am proud of Ms. Greene’s growth as a teacher and as a teacher leader,” LES Principal Chris Anderson said. “Ms. Greene does a remarkable job of facilitating rigorous instruction, making learning fun, promoting school spirit and increasing student participation in each of her fifth-grade classes.”
“I have always had an inclination to nurture children,” Greene said. “I decided to teach after taking part in my high school’s teacher cadet program, where I worked with kindergarten students at a nearby elementary school. I realized then that each new generation of children needs people in their lives every day who understand and meet their basic needs to be loved, nurtured, educated and supported. A great deal of us look for ways to give back to our communities and, as teachers, we have that element of life embedded in what we do every day. We inspire and produce great thinkers, writers, artists, mathematicians and scientists who leave us and do wonderful things.”
Greene taught second grade for seven years and served as a grade chair for two years. She currently teaches fifth-grade mathematics and social studies and has a gifted certification. Greene earned a bachelor’s of science and a master’s in early childhood education from Georgia Southern University.
Lyman Hall Elementary School teacher Wendy Kellman has been named teacher of the year for the second time.
“Wendy was the 2009-10 teacher of the year for Lyman Hall, and I am proud that she has received this wonderfully deserved honor again,” LHES Principal Claire Blanchard said. “Wendy is an extremely dedicated professional. As grade chair, she works hand-in-hand with the fifth-grade team to ensure that each child receives a challenging education that meets their individual needs. She has high expectations for all of them. She provides a loving and caring atmosphere. She’s patient, and she is devoted to them. The students love her. She is an inspiration to her colleagues and an excellent role model.”
“My family and I moved to Hinesville 14 years ago,” Kellman said. “While I was looking for a full-time job, I thought I could best utilize my free time by becoming a substitute teacher. On my first assignment, I was hooked. I had fun interacting with the students. They were learning. I no longer had any desire to utilize my B.B.A. in marketing to find a job shuffling papers. I wanted to go into the classroom and make an immediate impact.”
Kellman earned a master’s of arts in education at Central Michigan University and an educational specialist degree from Nova Southeastern University.
Midway Middle School’s teacher of the year is special-education teacher Carla Campbell.
“Carla goes above and beyond to create a positive learning environment,” MMS Principal Debra Frazier said. “She rewards children and supports them in any given task. In addition, she works well with her coworkers. I can always count on her to be a positive torch.”
“Teaching is one of the most challenging professions that exist,” Campbell said. “No other profession has more potential for touching the intellectual, social and emotional needs of students than a teacher. My journey to become a teacher was inspired by my brother, who has special needs. Watching how his teachers would only educate him with coloring, cooking and toileting was not only a disservice to him, but to his other peers in the classroom. The neglect of his education by uninspired teachers only fueled my fire in wanting to make a difference in special education. I often heard that it takes a special person to work with children with special needs. I am special. I have a special ability to not only educate my children with knowledge, but to give them a feeling of self worth and dignity to help them overcome everyday life challenges. My teaching gives students the necessary tools to be prepared for the future and to be successful in the working world.”
Campbell has a master’s degree in special education, a bachelor’s and an associate of arts in exceptional education. She has been teaching for nine years.
Liberty County High School graduate Kimberly Durrence was named Liberty Pre-K Center’s teacher of the year.
“I became a teacher because I love children,” Durrence said. “I enjoy being greeted every morning with a warm hug and a big smile. Every day I have the joy of teaching my students something new and watching their eyes fill with delight. I take great pride in knowing I am their first public-school teacher and I have the opportunity to set a firm, positive foundation for their educational future.”
Durrence specialized in the area of art and currently holds an elementary reading endorsement.
She earned a bachelor’s of science degree in art education from Armstrong Atlantic State University in 2006, and a master of education degree in early childhood education from AASU in 2009.
Snelson-Golden Middle School teacher of the year Melanie Carrier said she is simply carrying on a family tradition.
“I was raised in a family of educators,” Carrier said. “My father was a teacher and then a school administrator. My mother was a teacher for over 30 years. Some of my earliest memories are of going to school with them as they prepared for new school years and daily lessons. Both of my parents were outstanding educators. I still have people come to me and tell me that my father was their principal, or my mother was their favorite teacher. It still makes me feel good when people tell me what a wonderful influence my parents were in their lives. It is my hope to have this same impact on the students I teach.”
Carrier is married to Scott Carrier, the principal at Bradwell Institute. She has been teaching for 27 years. She earned a bachelor in science from Valdosta State University. Her specialty is career development.
Former school nurse and special-education teacher Susan Kennedy is Taylors Creek Elementary School’s teacher of the year.
“Although teaching was not my first career, I’ve always enjoyed working with children, and I’ve always had the desire to have a career where I felt I could have a positive impact in the lives of others,” Kennedy said. “It was during my time working in an elementary school as a school nurse that I began to feel the desire to teach. I loved being around the children, and became very aware of the awesome opportunity teachers have to make a difference in the lives of the children they teach. Since becoming a teacher, I have discovered it to be the toughest job I’ve ever had, but I’ve also found it to be the most rewarding. I have truly been blessed by the students I have had the opportunity to work with, and I hope that in some small way I have managed to make a positive difference in their lives as well, because that is the reason I became a teacher.”
Kennedy has been teaching for nine years. She earned an associate’s degree in nursing from Armstrong State College in 1989, a bachelor’s degree in early childhood education from Brewton-Parker College in 2004, a master’s degree in reading and literacy from Walden University in 2007, and a specialist degree in curriculum instruction management administration from Nova Southeastern University in 2009.
Waldo Pafford Elementary School chose first-grade teacher Candace Hankins to be the WPES teacher of the year.
“There is always one great role model in everyone’s life,” Hankins said. “Fortunately, I have had a long string of people that have inspired me to become a teacher. Many of my former teachers that stick out in my mind can be described with one word — fun!”
“The Army has taken my family and me many places, therefore I have taught in a lot of different school systems,” she said. “However, there is one common ground with all of the kids I have educated — each child is unique and needs a positive role model who loves them for who they are. Just like my role models, I want to be remembered as their silly teacher who creates funny songs, dances around the classroom and is crafty and technologically ‘trendy.’ I love to make memories with the kids, so their perception about education is positive. Being ‘fun’ is not always easy or effortless, but the intrinsic value of being an educator is something that I find genuine and imperative to each child’s success.”
Hankins has been teaching for 11 years. She earned a bachelor’s of science in elementary education from Northwestern State University in 2002.