Teachers and staff honored by CCSD

Published 8:30 am Saturday, November 18, 2023

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The Chambers County School District honored special teachers and support staff with Teacher and Support Staff of the Year awards during Wednesday’s school board meeting. The school board also distinguished three districtwide recipients for their exemplary work. 

“These people are very important,” said CCSD Superintendent Casey Chambley of the recipients during the meeting. “You all are integral parts of our system. Teachers and support staff — they are what make the school run. You’re the first line of defense.”

Dr. Shelia Jones, director of curriculum and instruction, announced the winners during the meeting. According to Jones, the teachers and staff who are nominated for the award are asked to submit a folder of documents including reference letters. 

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A panel of seven judges rates each folder blindly. The nominee with the highest rate receives the award.

Jones said this year two Teacher of the Year recipients tallied up the same score across the judging panel for a tie. Luckily, the two teachers happened to be from a secondary school and an elementary school each. 

The districtwide elementary and secondary Teacher of the Year recipients were Ellen Emfinger from Valley High School and Deanna Fuller from Bob Harding Shawmut Elementary School. 

Emfinger has worked for the district for over 31 years. Emfinger was praised by her coworkers for her engagement with students and the clubs, and she has helped create to fill student needs. 

Similarly, Fuller has taught in the district for 27 years. In one of her reference letters, Fuller was described as “the epitome of the teacher of the year.” Her former student said she taught from the heart, rather than from a book.

The districtwide support staff of the year was Rylee Ledbetter at Fairfax Elementary School. Ledbetter has worked in the district for five years. 

Ledbetter’s coworkers said she relates to the students well and takes time to advocate for students and teachers. A Fairfax parent said in her reference letter that many children wouldn’t have succeeded without Ledbetter’s help.

“You are the captain of your team, you are the captain of your school, and your staff thought that of you, ” Chambley said. “And today we honor you.”

Each of the districtwide recipients received an additional plaque and gift from the school board, which was sponsored by Krave Korner and Terri’s Mill Village Cafe. 

As for the schoolwide recipients, the Teacher of the Year Award went to Deanna Fuller from Bob Harding Shawmut Elementary School, Robert Spatz from Eastside J.P. Powell Magnet School, Julia Clark from Fairfax Elementary, April Haney from Huguley Elementary, Joshua Bryan from Inspire Academy, Yolanda Ferrell from LaFayette High School, Ellen Emfinger from Valley High School and Caron Finney from W.F. Burns Middle School. 

The schoolwide Support Staff of the Year award recipients were William Meeks from Bob Harding Shawmut Elementary School, Barbara Robinson from Eastside J.P. Powell, Rylee Ledbetter from Fairfax Elementary, Asiar Brooks from Huguley Elementary, Laura Heath from Inspire Academy, Camellia Rampey from LaFayette High School, Donna Smoot from Valley High School and David Morgan from W.F. Burns Middle School.

“You’re the ones that run the system, and we would not be where we are and the kids that come through our system would not be where they are without you,” Chambley said during the meeting.