Beginning a new expanded format for recognizing the top teachers, each public school named its teachers and employee of the year candidates last week.


Beginning a new expanded format for recognizing the top teachers, each public school named its teachers and employee of the year candidates last week.



The teacher of the year selections will vie in January for District Teacher of the Year, who will go on to represent the district in state competition in the spring.



The employee of the year candidates will undergo a similar process, with the District Employee of the Year named in January and moving onto to state competition.



This year, the School Board voted to add a new wrinkle to the process. Come April the district will name a Rookie Teacher of the Year award to a teacher in their first year in the district.



“We wanted to expand the ways we recognize our teachers,” said Melissa Ramsey, district Supervisor for Assessment and Testing.



The teacher of the year candidates announced during faculty meetings last Wednesday are: Cindy Phillips from Port St. Joe Elementary School; Julie Hodges from Port St. Joe Jr./Sr. High School; Karen Turner from Wewahitchka Jr./Sr. High School; and Tracy Bowers at Wewahitchka Elementary School.



Each teacher of the year candidate was selected in voting by the faculty at their school, so they are selected by their peers.



The employees of the year are similarly identified by co-workers and administrators at each school and district site.



The candidates for District Employee of the Year, also known as non-instructional personnel, at each school site are: Jewell Hopper at Port St. Joe Elementary; Karen Taylor at Port St. Joe Jr./Sr. High School; Mary Ann Peak at Wewahitchka Elementary; and Julie Carr at Wewahitchka Jr./Sr. High School.



Also recognized and in the running for district honors are:  Susie White at the district office and Mary Lou “Cookie” White with maintenance/transportation.



“In January these most deserving recipients will vie for district honors,” said Superintendent of Schools Jim Norton. “We also thank the volunteer committee from across the district that helped re-vamp these programs as well as all those who provided suggestions regarding the process.”



Each school-based Teacher of the Year received $500; each employee of the year candidate received $100.



The District Teacher of the Year will receive $1,000 and the District Employee of the Year $200.



The Rookie Teacher of the Year will be recognized with a plaque in April.



School Board organization



At their annual organizational meeting last week School Board members decided they like things just as they are.



Board chair Linda Wood was unanimously re-nominated to continue as chairwoman for another year and vice-chair George Cox, who would have been in line to move to chairman, was unanimously approved for another year as vice-chair.



Cox noted that many districts use a two-year rotation for chairmanship and her fellow board members echoed his comments about the admirable job Wood had performed during the past difficult year.



“It is really all about the support team,” Wood said. “I could not do this job without you and the staff. We may not always agree, but we work well together and don’t carry any disagreements out of this board room.”



IT infrastructure upgrade



Board members unanimously approved the awarding a bid for the first phase of improvements to the district’s technology infrastructure.



The first phase will cost more than $112,000, but Sara Joe Wooten, Deputy Superintendent for Instruction, said the upgrade was critical as the district increases the number of dual-enrolled students, more classes move online and more educational opportunities are offered through distance learning.