Teachers honored by Talladega City Schools

Among the teachers honored by the Talladega City school system Tuesday night were (from left) Kimberly Mitchell, Jacksonville State University Teacher Hall of Fame High School nominee; Kelly Davidson, system Elementary Teacher of the Year and JSU Hall Elementary nominee; and Regina McKinney, system Secondary Teacher of the Year and JSU Hall Junior High nominee.

Chris Norwood/The Daily Home

TALLADEGA -- The Talladega City Board of Education honored its Teachers of the Year and nominees for the Jacksonville State University Teachers Hall of Fame during the panel’s regular meeting Tuesday night and at a reception at Heritage Hall immediately afterward.

R.L. Young second-grade teacher Kelly Davidson won the system’s Elementary Teacher of the Year Award and was the system’s JSU Hall of Fame Elementary nominee; Regina McKinney, math teacher at Zora Ellis Junior High, won Secondary Teacher of the Year and was the JSU Junior High nominee; and career technical teacher Kimberly Mitchell was the Hall High School nominee.

System Curriculum Coordinator Pattie Thomas explained that each school chooses one teacher to represent it, then sends that name to a committee that will make the final selections. The system Teacher of the Year winners names are sent to Montgomery to compete for Alabama Teacher of the Year.

JSU Hall of Fame nominees are also selected by their peers.

In introducing this year’s winners, Thomas cited a quote from painter Vincent Van Gogh, who said, “Your profession is not what brings home your weekly paycheck, your profession is what you are put here on earth to do, with such passion and such intensity that it becomes spiritual in calling.”

Thomas added, “It is my pleasure to be a part of the recognition of these three amazing educators. The application process for both TOY and JSU Hall of Fame are time consuming to say the least. The applications contain many letters of support and the teachers’ thoughts. I’d like to share some tidbits from these letters of support and a few words from the teachers.”

Of Davidson, Thomas said, “She is an excellent teacher who goes above and beyond what is expected of her in every situation. Mrs. Davidson is the first person to see a need or problem, but unlike most people, she offers suggestions or solutions to solve it. She is passionate about her career. Her love of teaching shows in everything she does, even outside of the school setting. She is very effective in her communication with parents, which I feel is vital to her position as a teacher. By the time a student exits her class, they are not only much more educated, but a better person through her teaching.”

Davidson’s philosophy of teaching is “in order for myself, as well as any educator, to be a successful educator, to be a successful teacher, we must care for our students by ‘knowing.’ We must take the time to know what is in their heart. Not only are we forming a bond to make teaching these students more productive, but we are helping students grow as individuals in a safe, secure and caring environment.”

McKinney’s recommendations, Thomas said, included that “she shows her students every day, in and out of school, that they can make it through any and every trial and tribulation that may be thrown in their path. She is the teacher that helps you uncover the flaming desire to learn. As a student, I observed that she tended to each of her math students with specific care, and she motivated and pushed us to be determined in excelling within the classroom and within the community.

“I have witnessed her devote many ‘planning periods’ and after-school hours to tutoring students who needed extra help. She would know almost every mother and grandmother on a personal basis and most of the time had their cellphone number already in her phone. She was determined that all students could and would learn.”

Her philosophy is that “teaching is a constant learning for the student and for the teacher. My students are learning from each other and they are learning from me. But at the same time, I am learning from them. We are all in this learning together.”

Mitchell’s recommendation said she has “proven to be one of the best teachers that I have ever had the opportunity to work with and observe in action. She is very sensitive to the needs of others. I find her to be a teacher of great integrity, competence and compassion.

“She tirelessly keeps our staff up to date on current issues and trends concerning career tech. She has always put much effort into ensuring her students have gained the knowledge necessary to be college or career ready.

“A former student says, ‘Ms. Mitchell convinced me to run for (Family, Career and Community Leaders of America) state office, and I became the state vice president for 2005-2006. I spoke in front of huge audiences, even though I had once been afraid to speak in front of the class. The best thing she did for me, however, was to make me feel important. She did that by listening to me and being there for me when I needed an adult to talk to. Ms. Mitchell changed countless lives.’”

As for her philosophy, Mitchell said, “If I had to sum my teaching career up for you in a few words, I would say that I am living the dream. Educators must remember that we are here for our students. Everything we do must be done in the best interest of our students.”

During the reception, Superintendent Terry Roller said, “The district is you. We can put our awesome plans into action, hire great (chief financial officers) to manage our money, but without our teachers, we don’t have anything.”

Further coverage of Tuesday’s meeting will appear in Thursday’s Daily Home.