Waldo Pafford Elementary second-grade teacher Velma Donnell on Tuesday was named Liberty County School System Teacher of the Year for 2013-14.
“There are no words. I’m so honored,” Donnell said when she realized she won the honor. “I’m so shocked. I cannot believe this.”
In her teacher statement, Donnell said she uses every means necessary to reach her students and that humor often works.
That humor was on display Tuesday night as LCSS Superintendent Dr. Judy Scherer read excerpts from Donnell’s statement. The teacher’s eyes bulged, her jaw dropped, and her expression grew increasingly emotional as the words verified that Donnell was the one selected.
A three-person committee of community representatives who are not affiliated with the school system evaluates the applications and conducts classroom observations to select the district candidate, Scherer said.
“This is so unreal,” the mother of five and wife to Charles Donnell said in between congratulations from colleagues.
Donnell, in her 18th year teaching, credits the educators who taught her with being a positive force in her life, especially her senior-year accounting teacher, Dwinda Lewis Wilson, who helped her with college applications and drove Donnell to visit a college in North Carolina.
Before her name was called, Donnell was in tears and waving her hand in front of her face, with those surrounding her taking video on their phones and offering silent celebrations.
After she was recognized and received a new laptop, Waldo Pafford students rushed to Donnell and greeted her with hugs and asked for pictures.
“She’s amazing; she puts all of her efforts into making sure her students are prepared for whatever the next step is for them …,” WPE Principal Dr. Sonia Bacon said. “She has a positive attitude every minute of the day, no matter what’s going on. She enjoys what she does, and it’s obvious.”
“Her kids love her, that’s for sure,” Bacon added.
In other business Tuesday, the BoE also:
• accepted a $44,999 bid from Landscape Structures Inc. and Sporting Concepts International Inc. to supply and install playground equipment at the Liberty County Pre-K Center
• approved a contract amendment with Altman+Barrett Architects-Engineers so the firm can oversee retrofitting the Jordye Bacon Elementary School campus to accommodate the Coastal Academy and Ombudsman programs next year
• accepted a retirement request from Janice Hall, the Liberty Elementary School teacher who allegedly tipped a desk on a second-grade student