School board recognizes Unicoi County's Teachers of the Year

Sue Guinn Legg • Updated Apr 15, 2016 at 12:26 PM

ERWIN — With the school year winding down, the Unicoi County Board of Education on Thursday dedicated much of its April meeting to recognizing the accomplishments of some of the school system’s most outstanding teachers and students and a prestigious regional recognition recently bestowed on one of its own members.

The honorees include three dedicated educators chosen by their peers as Unicoi County’s 2016 Teachers of the Year — Kay Ayers, Brian Edwards and Amy Edwards.

Recognized by her fellow K-fourth grade teachers for the care she shows to her students and her colleagues, Ayers has spent the last 18 years of her 34-year teaching career as a second-grade teacher at Temple Hill Elementary School and will retire at the end of the current school year.

Rather than a job, Ayers said teaching is “a life choice that continues beyond the end of the school day,” and her greatest reward is “to see a student when they say, ‘I’ve got it.’ “

Five years into his teaching career, Brian Edwards, a seventh-grade language-arts teacher, was selected Teacher of the Year by the county’s fifth-eighth-grade teachers.

He was recognized by his peers as “a great motivator” of students and said he loves fostering “a sense of community” among them “that transforms my classroom into our classroom.”

Amy Edwards, who has taught English at Unicoi County High School for the past 15 1/2 years, was named Teacher of the Year by the county’s ninth-12th grade teachers. She was recognized for her passion for teaching and for going the extra mile for her students.

Explaining her teaching philosophy, she said, “Education allows people to reach their potential, and in doing so, to exercise their freedom.”

Student recognitions, which are included in every meeting of the Unicoi County Board of Education, on Thursday went to the county high school’s Student Congress on Policies in Education and Mock Trial teams, which both recently returned from their group’s statewide gatherings.

The SCOPE team members included Elizabeth Sutphin, Ashlyn Gentry, Sam Morillo and Christian Leon, who recently took part in the Tennessee School Board Association’s annual SCOPE assembly at Middle Tennessee State University in Murfreesboro.

School Board members Ruth Gaines and Lisa White, who also attended the statewide assembly, said the purpose of SCOPE is to give students a voice and to allow them to debate and decide on issues that impact their education.

Sutphin said the experience gave their group greater appreciation for the work of the school board.

The Mock Trial team members were Sutphin, Leon, Aurora Whitson, Isaiah Tipton, Carter Powers, Rachel Lynch, Katie Larimer, Reanna Jones, Leanna Hager, Alex Carter, Daniel Campbell, Olivia Brackins and Megan Todd, who earned their spot in the Tennessee Bar Association’s 2016 Mock Trial competition in Nashville with outstanding performance in regional competition held earlier this year.

Director of Schools John English said that as a juror in a fundraising Mock Trial conducted by the team in advance of the competitions, the students’ portrayal of attorneys, witnesses, defendants and plaintiffs and their skilled presentation of the facts caused him to waver in his opinion of their case, and is convinced the team includes several future lawyers.

Thursday’s meeting concluded with the school board’s surprise recognition of board member Garland “Bubba” Evely for his recent selection as a 2016 winner of Milligan College’s Leaders in Christian Service Award.

Presented annually by Milligan, the awards recognize professionals across the region who exemplify Christian character in their church, their career and their community.

Email Sue Guinn Legg at [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter @sueleggjcpress. Like her on Facebook at facebook.com/sueleggjcpress.

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