HEFLIN — Inclement weather Wednesday forced organizers of Educator Appreciation Night to scramble at the last minute to find dry ground.
The event was supposed to have been at the Heflin Amphitheater but was moved to the nearby Heflin Recreation Center due to heavy rain and lightning. Over 100 people gathered to honor Cleburne educators despite the last-minute change in location.
But as the last year has proven, teachers are all about adapting to changed circumstances.
The event was sponsored by the Cleburne County Chamber of Commerce to recognize Cleburne County teachers of the year, and retiring teachers, and to enjoy food and entertainment.
Two high school students — Samuel Adams from Cleburne County High School and Katherine Robinson from Ranburne High School — received $1,000 youth leadership scholarships from the chamber.
Singer/songwriter Reese Burke performed a medley of songs to kick off the night's entertainment, which also featured singer/songwriter Hayden Coffman later in the program.
Todd Chandler, outgoing principal of Cleburne County Middle School, was one of five retiring educators recognized. He said it felt good to see the other teachers in a relaxed atmosphere due to the loosening of COVID restrictions.
“I think that’s a good thing, being able to come together and celebrate those teachers of the year, they’ve done great things, they’re peers saw that they’ve done great things,” said Chandler.
“Of course being retired I’m just a has-been, I want to recognize them,” he said.
Robert Pittman, president of the Cleburne County Chamber of Commerce, told the crowd that it was the teachers who needed to be commended for their service during the pandemic.
“As everybody knows this past year and a half or so has really been tough, it’s been tough on the students but it’s really been tough on the teachers and the educators,” Pittman said.
“Trying to carry on lesson plans, trying to use computers to stay in contact, it’s just been double the work on top of what they normally do. We really owe a round of appreciation and thanks to our teacher, our educators, for pulling our kids through, our grandkids through,” he said.
After watching the retiring teachers and teachers of the year presentations, the audience heard various educators talk about their careers in the field.
Piggly Wiggly and Heflin Nutrition provided food and drink for the attendees.