PELL CITY -- A fourth-grade teacher at Pell City’s Eden Elementary School has been named the Alabama Teacher of The Year.
Dr. Andrew Jackson was announced as the winner of the award during the Alabama State Board of Education Meeting on Thursday morning.
Jackson was one of 16 finalists for the award recognized during the meeting before being named what the Alabama Department of Education called the “state’s most outstanding educator.”
Pell City Superintendent Dr. James Martin said the school system is excited to have one of its teachers be bestowed with the honor to represent all of the state as Teacher of the Year.
“I’m so glad that Dr. Jackson is the voice of our teachers,” Martin said. “He is a true teacher.”
Martin said Jackson is emblematic of the kind of teachers who work for the system as a whole.
Martin has gone on the record several times since he became superintendent saying he believes Pell City has the best teachers in the state, and he said this announcement goes toward proving that.
“This is confirmation of what I have felt and believed since I walked in here,” he said.
Laurie Funderburg, who previously served as principal at Eden before being named curriculum director for kindergarten through sixth grade in late June, said Jackson is a standout on an already wonderful staff.
“He really is an amazing teacher,” Funderburg said. “He has a kind heart and he gets to know the kids.”
Jackson said the announcement brought a strange mixture of emotions.
“It's very exciting and surreal,” he said. “That's all I can say.”
Jackson said he already feels the added responsibility that comes with the title. He said while there will always be issues he advocates for, like child mental health and special needs, he will now be representing teachers and students in the entire state.
Jackson said he is looking forward to what looks to be a rather unorthodox tenure as Teacher of the Year. He said while the position normally involves a year of speaking engagement and workshops, he isn’t sure what the job will entail with the pandemic still going on.
“Some of the responsibilities haven’t been set down yet,” he said.
Jackson said while he is excited to be honored, he is sad to not be able to begin school normally next week. He said he was set to teach math to the entire fourth grade at Eden this year and was looking forward to teaching his new students.
Despite this, Jackson said he is sure Pell City will have a suitable replacement for students in place.
“Pell City has shown it knows how to hire good teachers,” he said.
Martin said despite the short notice, Jackson’s extended leave is a change he can live with considering all the other changes he has had to make for this school year.
He said the school district already had systems in place to have long-term subs in case of pandemic-related leaves by teachers, and it will likely use that same structure to help cover Jackson’s class.