O’Bryan told her fellow teachers Monday that she was proud to be one who had returned to Jessamine County after starting in the district 17 years ago and then experiencing other environments.
“Other places will pay you more, and you might have a shorter school day and miss 20 days and get out two weeks earlier or whatever the case may be, but you are not going to get the support and the love that you would feel if you work at a place like we do here in Jessamine County,” O’Bryan said. “It is a family from K through 12 across the district. They will ask a lot of you, but they will support you in whatever you do.”
Justice, an eighth-grade social-studies teacher, was described in a nomination as a teacher who “goes above and beyond for her students in the classroom and out, cares for students as individuals, works diligently to make engaging and rigorous studies, demonstrates a passion for teaching and learning, and is intentionally inviting.”
Justice said she felt “grateful and blessed” and gave credit to her fellow teacher, Emily West.
“I’ve been with the same content partner the entire time, and if I could give her half (of the award), I would,” Justice said.
Burton and McCracken have been teaching together for five years, Burton as the regular educator and McCracken as the special educator. They were the only pair recognized as a single teacher of the year, which made it tough to disguise the winner as Saylor read from a nomination.
“I’ve never seen a more collaborative teaching team,” Saylor began reading as the crowd burst into applause. “It was tough to hide (who the winner was),” he said as the noise died down.
Burton said the two “finish each other’s sentences,” and McCracken said working with Burton gives her “the best of both worlds” as a special educator also working in regular education.
“When you enter their classroom, you can’t tell who the lead teacher is,” Saylor read from the nomination. “Both teachers are working equally hard to meet the needs of all the students. They truly use their years of combined experience and their own personal strengths to benefit the kids.”
Each recipient of the Excellence in Education award will receive a $1,000 classroom award and be a Jessamine County nominee for Kentucky’s teacher of the year, an honor bestowed upon East Jessamine High School teacher Erika Webb last October after Webb had won the high-school Excellence in Education award in 2009. Webb spoke to the crowd about what she had learned before this year’s awards were presented.
Other 2011 teachers of the year were Angela Miller from Jessamine Early Learning Village, Rhonda Story from Nicholasville Elementary, Melissa Wood from Rosenwald-Dunbar Elementary, Amy Adams from Warner Elementary, Heather Whyte from Wilmore Elementary, Sherry Maxwell from West Jessamine Middle, Jolene Jaquet from East Jessamine High, Josh Yost from West Jessamine High, Doug Cumbie from The Providence School and special educator Tara Miller from Brookside.