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Teachers return early, prepare for students

Thomasena Garner, center, accepts her $5,000 check as 2016 District Secondary Teacher of the Year. Carol Bohatch, the 2015 recipient, and superintendent Dr. Dee Fowler present the check to Garner. CONTRIBUTED
Thomasena Garner, center, accepts her $5,000 check as 2016 District Secondary Teacher of the Year. Carol Bohatch, the 2015 recipient, and superintendent Dr. Dee Fowler present the check to Garner. CONTRIBUTED

MADISON – The dust is starting to settle.

On Aug. 3, students returned to Madison classrooms for the first day of the 2016-2017 school year. However, Madison City Schools (MCS) teachers were on campus or in meetings several days before students arrived.

Orientation for new teachers and staff was held July 26-27 at Central Office. “Superintendent Dr. Dee Fowler spoke about the education profession, a brief history of the Madison City Schools system, district expectations and the students who will be looking up to them,” public relations manager John S. Peck said.

Assistant Superintendent Robby Parker introduced principals, who recognized their assistant principals and new employees that had been hired.

On July 28, the district-wide “Institute Day” served as “the ceremonial kickoff for the new school year,” Peck said. All MCS employees reported to Zompa Auditorium at Bob Jones High School as Fowler and Madison Board of Education President Dr. Terri Johnson gave “pep talks” to the group, which almost filled the auditorium.

Also on Institute Day, three employees were named as 2016’s most outstanding elementary teacher, middle/high school teacher and staff member.

Melissa Miller from Mill Creek Elementary teacher is District Elementary Teacher of the Year. Miller, who teaches kindergartners, earned a bachelor’s degree in child development and psychology at Maryville College in Tennessee. She also taught at Heritage from 1999 to 2009.

Thomasena Garner from Liberty Middle School is the 2016 District Secondary Teacher of the Year. Garner teaches seventh-grade life science and “Medical Detectives,” affiliated with Project Lead the Way.

At Alabama A&M University, Garner earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in biology education. At Middle Tennessee State University, she received an educational specialist’s degree.

Sherry Roberts is District Staff Member of the Year. Roberts works as payroll bookkeeper at Central Office.

Institute Day’s keynote speaker was Liz Huntley, a Huntsville native and Birmingham attorney. “Ms. Huntley shared her remarkable story of overcoming a tremendously rocky childhood. Teachers saw her potential and gave her the love and affirmation she craved,” Peck said.

“Children naturally want affirmation. Many don’t get it at home, and school is the only place they get it. Affirmation is the driver of why we learn,” Huntley told the Madison teachers.

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