On May 25, the Heard County School System held its first annual end of year faculty and staff awards program. The event was held in the cafeteria at Heard County High School, where each school’s Teacher of the Year and Support Person of the Year was announced. During the program, the Teacher of the Year and Support Person of the year for the entire school system was also announced, along with the newly created One Brave Nation Awards. “We wanted to take a moment before we dispersed for the summer to acknowledge and celebrate the great faculty and staff that we have in the Heard County School System,” stated Heard County Superintendent Rodney Kay.
Heard County Elementary School kindergarten teacher Tara Neighbors was honored during the program as the 2021 Heard County School System Teacher of the Year. All ten years of Neighbor's teacher career have been at Heard County Elementary School. As a kindergarten teacher, Neighbors teaches all subjects, and over the past several years has taken on the challenge of teaching kindergarten students with special needs. “I am really not sure why I was chosen as Teacher of the Year,” said Neighbors. “There are so many wonderful teachers that give their all every single year. I felt honored and blessed to be named Teacher of the Year amongst all the great teachers at our school.”
Susan Scott, a parapro at Centralhatchee Elementary School, was named the 2021 Heard County School System’s Support Person of the Year. Scott has worked at Centralhatchee for the past sixteen years. Scott has a reputation amongst her colleagues as someone who is dedicated and willing to step in whenever needed. “I have known her for the last five years to be an exceptional pre-k and kindergarten assistant,” claims CES principal Dr. Dawn Bennett. “Not only is she a wonderful, dedicated employee, she walks the walk of a true Christian. She is patient, kind, loving, and understanding.”
Adrienne Fuller was honored during the program as Centralhatchee Elementary School’s 2021 Teacher of the Year. Fuller has taught for two years at CES as a kindergarten teacher. Her colleagues noted Fuller’s desire to learn from other teachers and constantly wanting to improve as just a couple of the reasons they selected her as their Teacher of the Year. Fuller was surprised that she was chosen as her school’s Teacher of the Year. “The staff at CES is top notch, so to be selected by them is truly an honor,” stated Fuller.
Ephesus Elementary selected Heather Camp as Teacher of the Year for 2021. Camp, a fifteen year teaching veteran, is in her second year as a third grade teacher at Ephesus Elementary School. “I was so honored to be selected as Teacher of the Year,” said Camp. “I see so many others at Ephesus that symbolize Teacher of the Year with their hard work ethic, passion, and drive. To be considered as Teacher of the Year was so incredibly humbling, and I am appreciative to my coworkers for selecting me for such an incredible honor.”
Now a teacher at Heard County High School, Gavin Porter was working as a special education teacher at Heard County Middle School when selected as the 2021 HCMS Teacher of the Year. Porter has been a teacher for the past five years, and has also served during that time as a member of the Heard County athletics staff. “Coach Porter is a very hard working and encouraging teacher,” claims Heard County Middle School Principal Brian Hadley. “He shows the kids through his actions that he cares for them. He’s a great person.” Porter gives many of his middle school colleagues all the credit. “The award is cool, but it is even cooler to recognize the friendships through the years that got you there,” said Porter.
Melissa Nichol was selected as the 2021 Teacher of the Year for Heard County High School. Nicol has taught twenty of her twenty-five years in education in Heard County, and has spent time teaching at the elementary, middle, and high school levels. Nichol currently teaches World Literature and Composition to ninth and tenth grade students. Nichol believes she was chosen as Teacher of the Year because “I truly love the students and am willing to go above and beyond to help them become successful.” Nichol was very honored to be chosen for this award by her peers. “I work with wonderful teachers who love the students,” stated Nichol. “For them to recognize me to represent our school, I am truly humbled.”
When selected as the 2021 Ephesus Elementary School Support Person of the Year, Hailey Boggus was serving as a special education parapro. Boggus has subsequently completed her teaching degree, and now works as a special education teacher for the Heard County School System. “It was an absolute honor to be chosen as Ephesus’ Support Person of the Year, especially since it was my first year as an educator,” acknowledged Boggus. “While at Ephesus, I worked with so many incredible teachers, and I continue to learn so much from them. I am beyond thankful for their guidance and friendship.”
The receptionist at Heard County Elementary School for the past five years, Jenny Cheeves was selected as the 2021 HCES Support Person of the Year. Cheeves is known for being the friendly face of the school, and has developed positive relationships with virtually all parents. Not afraid to be silly, Cheeves is able to bring joy to her colleagues and the HCES community. “I was honestly humbled when I found out that I had been chosen for this award,” claimed Cheeves. “I am even more certain that this is a great place to work.”
Maxine Ogletree was selected as the 2021 Heard County Middle School Support Person of the Year. Ogletree serves as the on-site Beck supervisor at HCMS, where she is responsible for the cleaning and sanitizing of the facility. Ogletree is known for being a positive influence at the school, on top of being a dedicated worker who strives for excellence. “Mrs. Ogletree is one of the hardest working people I know,” stated HCMS Principal Brian Hadley. “She takes pride in her job, she is a team player, and she shows everyone love and respect.”
Sandra Holtzclaw has been serving as the bookkeeper for Heard County High School for the past eight years, and before that served in the same capacity at Heard County Elementary School. She was selected as the 2021 Heard County High School Support Person of the Year, “because of her willingness to help anyone and the positive energy she brings into the building everyday,” said HCHS Principal JJ Wahl. Holtzclaw was stunned when she discovered that she had been chosen for the award. “I was over the moon excited,” exclaimed Holzclaw. “Not to mention shocked!”
In addition to recognizing the Teacher of the Year and Support Person of the Year for the entire system and each school, the Heard County School System honored the first annual One Brave Nation Awards. These awards were structured around the Heard County School System Core Values. These values include Kindness, Patience, Forgiveness, Trusting, Unselfishness, Truthfulness, and Dedication. The Heard County Faculty and Staff nominated their peers for these awards, and then were given the opportunity to vote for the final recipients.
Winners of the 2021 One Brave Nation Awards:
Kind: Stacey Walker (Receptionist, HCMS)
Patient: Liz Spradlin (Media Specialist, HCHS), Becky Roberts (Counselor, HCHS)
Forgiving: JJ Wahl (Principal, HCHS)
Trusting: Ken Wiggins (Assistant Principal, HCMS)
Unselfish: June Barber (Social Worker, HCSS)
Truthful: Helen Akins (Teacher/Coach, HCHS)
Dedicated: Shane Lasseter (Teacher/Coach/Athletic Director, HCHS)