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Latoya Whitehorn, center, accepts her award check for “Staff Member of the Year” from Madison City Schools Superintendent Dr. Ed Nichols, at left, and Liberty Middle School Principal Shannon Brown. Whitehorn is Liberty’s permanent substitute teacher. CONTRIBUTED

Teachers, students motivate Latoya Whitehorn, Liberty’s top staffer

MADISON – Liberty Middle School is Latoya Whitehorn’s first ‘home school.’ For the past four years, she has valued Liberty as an extension of family. Whitehorn is “Staff Member of the Year” at Liberty.

“I have been blessed to work with phenomenal teachers and staff at Liberty,” Whitehorn said. “Even when days are a little tough, I am reminded why I do what I do. Our teachers and students give me the drive to do what I do each day.”

For seven years before moving to Madison, Whitehorn worked for Johnson City Schools in Johnson City, Tenn. She started substitute teaching for Madison City Schools in fall 2017. About one year later, she assumed the role of permanent sub (substitute teacher) at Liberty Middle School.

Previously, Whitehorn worked as a substitute teacher at Horizon and Mill Creek elementary schools. However, she has strong feeling of ‘home’ for Liberty.

In considering her teaching philosophy, Whitehorn is “a big believer in teamwork. I apply the phrase first coined by Aristotle daily, ‘A whole is better than the sum of its parts.’”

“I do not consider myself to be strict; however, I do like structure with a spoonful of creativity and spunk,” Whitehorn said. “The students and teachers know that they can be themselves around me, and that really makes my day.”

Whitehorn equates success with taking the needed steps to confirm that her mental health is a priority. “My success was achieved with the help of my Liberty team, self-recognition and self-care. I have a wonderful team at Liberty Middle School that has encouraged me every step of the way and reminded me of my goals,” she said.

“I am able to recognize these signs in our children and point them in the right direction for help,” Whitehorn said. “Knowing that I have people in my corner pushes me to stand and deliver. I am overjoyed with the mental health awareness that MCS provides for our students, employees and the parents of Madison.”

Whitehorn graduated with a bachelor’s degree from East Tennessee State University in Johnson City.

Her husband Jeffrey works for MDA. “We have two wonderful children, Rhianna and Julius. My daughter attends James Clemens High School, and my son attends Mill Creek Elementary School,” Whitehorn said.

When she has a chance to relax, Latoya enjoys spending time with her family, watching movies, dancing, creating art and “listening to music — especially anything from the 1970s and 1980s and jazz music on my record player. Music is good for the soul!” she said.

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