Honoring educators

Published 10:31 am Wednesday, January 2, 2013

The Pike County School system named six faculty member for the 2012 - 13 Teacher of Year Award. The awards were presented at the Teacher In-service Day on January 2, 2013. Pictured from left are Dr Mark Bazzell, Samuel Valentine (PCES), Sharon Denison (PCHS), Jodie Jefcoat (GHS), Jessica Tatum (GES), Latoya Gay (BMS), and Mary Dubose (BPS).

Pike County School system honors ‘teacher of the year’

The Pike County School System honored six of its teachers as Teachers of the Year at the in-service day held at Pike County High School Monday.

Jessica Tatum was named overall Elementary Teacher of the Year, Latoya Gay was named overall Middle School Teacher of the Year, and Sharon Denison was named overall Secondary Teacher of the Year.

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The individual school awards were presented to Mary Dubose, Banks Primary School; Latoya Gay, Banks Middle School; Jessica Tatum, Goshen Elementary School; Jodie Jefcoat, Goshen High School; Samuel Valentine, Pike County Elementary School; and Sharon Denison, Pike County High School.

Tatum and Denison are eligible for the Alabama Teacher of the Year award and Gay is eligible for the middle school award that will be presented by Jacksonville State University.

Dr. Mark Head, System administrative assistant, congratulated the teachers and expressed appreciation to them for their dedication and commitment to education.

“The Pike County School System has outstanding teachers and, for these teachers to be selected by their peers is a real honor,” Head said. “These ‘Teachers of the Year’ go above and beyond what is expected of them and we are proud to recognize them with these awards.”

The individual schools select the teachers for the school awards and the overall Teacher of the Year awards are selected by a non-partisan committee.

Tatum has been teaching for 10 years, eight of those in first grade at Goshen.

“From day-one, they are my kids and I never let them go,” Tatum said, with a smile. “Whether my kids want me to or not, I follow them on to high school. I want to hear about what they are doing and about their successes. At Goshen, we are family. Everybody knows each other and we care about each other.”

Tatum said that she was not expecting the Teacher of the Year award.

“There were too many others that are deserving to even think about that,” she said. “It’s humbling. I am so honored

Denison said, too, that she is deeply honored by both awards.

“To be selected by your peers is always an honor,” she said. “It means a lot to know that your peers and others think that you are doing a good job and making a difference. That’s the reason I went into education. I wanted to make a difference in the lives of young people.”

Denison has been teaching for 25 years and said that, although times have changed, kids have not.

“Kids are kids,” she said. “The parents of my students have been very supportive and I appreciate that.”

Denison added that society has become more skill oriented and sees education moving toward direct, specified areas in the near future.

Gay is from Memphis and, laughingly, said she didn’t even know where Banks was until she took the job as English teacher at the middle school.

“I played basketball at Troy State but I didn’t know about Banks,” she said. “But, it was God’s will for me to go there and I’m so happy there.”

Gay said the parental support at Banks is outstanding and makes for a wonderful teaching environment.

“I know it’s a cliché but Banks is like a family. People really care about each other and work together to make Banks such a great school,” she said. “The teachers at Banks are dedicated and hard working. They really care about the kids. To be selected for this honor by them is humbling, very humbling.”

Valentine retired as an Army drill sergeant and five years ago found his way into the elementary school classroom.

“John Adams once said that teachers affect eternity,” Valentine said. “Teaching is what I want to do. I believe that I have more opportunities to mold character and affect values longer and with a more lasting effect in the classroom than I had in the Army.”

Valentine has one career notched in his belt and he’s not discounting a long career in education.

“As long as I’m reaching kids, I will stay in the classroom,” he said. “In the classroom is where I want to be. I’m doing what I want to do. I’m honored by this award. It means a lot to me.”

Jefcoat is only in her third year at Goshen High School and brought with her a 13-year background in business.

“I was working for AG Edwards and enjoyed that so I got a bachelor’s degree in business,” Jefcoat said. “But, I had this nagging in the back of my mind and in my heart to teach. The position at Goshen came open and I knew that what I really wanted to do was teach.”

To teach, Jefcoat had to go back to college and take education courses but that was a decision she had never regretted.

“I’m humbled by this award,” she said. “Especially because it comes for my peers. Hopefully, it means that they know I care and that I am making a difference.”


Dubose, a 25-year veteran teacher, said she has always enjoyed learning and continues to learn every day with her second-grade kids at Banks Primary School.

“I always knew I wanted to teach,” Dubose said.

“My husband is a farmer and he wanted me to stay close around so sometimes I could help out on the farm.”

Dubose had attended first and second grade at Banks and want to teach there but she had to first get her foot in the door.

“I worked with the Pike County School System as an aide to get my foot in the door,” she said. “Once I got in the door, I knew I was where I belonged. I love teaching and I love my students. And, I am honored and humbled by the recognition of my peers.”

In recognition of their awards, the teachers each received $300 to be used in the classroom.

All expressed appreciation for the monetary donations and said they will be used to the best benefit of their students.