It’s an honor: Teachers honored for years of service, welcomed to PCS family at Institute Day

Published 3:00 am Thursday, August 6, 2015

Barbara Holladay hugs Banks Elementary School principal Lee Scott before she walks on stage to accept her pin for 35 years of service in the Pike County School System. Holladay has worked as a bus driver for 35 years and said she has driven the same route during her time as a driver. MESSENGER PHOTO/SCOTTIE BROWN

Barbara Holladay hugs Banks Elementary School principal Lee Scott before she walks on stage to accept her pin for 35 years of service in the Pike County School System. Holladay has worked as a bus driver for 35 years and said she has driven the same route during her time as a driver.


The Pike County School System welcomed almost 40 new teachers into the schools system Wednesday morning at the Pike County Cattleman’s Complex.

Those welcomed to the Pike County High School family included: Todd Reynolds, social science; Faith Maddox, English; Raven Shepherd, English; Paul Kennedy, special education; Amy Tillery, math and Shae Driggers, physical education teacher.

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Those welcomed to the Goshen High School family included: Kathy Schofield, math; Kristie Garner, English; Jeffery Hillburn, science; Sonya McLaughlin, science; Cody Eiland, agriscience; Jamie Rich, agriscience/program facilitator; Ethan Carrol, social science; Ansley Godwin, social science; Kristin Ricks, art and Mitchell Price, English.

Those welcomed to the Banks family included: Chelsea Marguriet, Pre-K lead teacher; Benjamin Graham, social science and Amy Garrett, match/science STEM Academy.

Those welcomed to the Goshen Elementary family included: Kristin Growden, special education aide; Lynne Dansby, first grade; Marissa Milligan, first grade; Christie Watson, sixth grade; Zachery Ward, physical education aide; Rebecca Lester, Kindergarten; Kelli Powell Beck, fifth grade; Brooke Dean, Pre-K teacher and Halee Hodge, sixth grade. Those welcomed to the Pike County Elementary family included: Sylvia Haslam, principal; Shannah Loper, elementary music/art; Debbie LaViner, fourth grade teacher; Shoronda Hunter, special education and Chad Mansmann, physical education teacher.

The bus shop also welcome Tony Ivey, maintenance; Gary Pruitt, bus driver; Natasha Gosha, bus driver and Jamie Sutherland, bus driver.

Elizabeth Rhodes was welcomed as a CNP worker and David Godwin was welcomed as a teacher at the ALC. The Troy Pike Center for Technology also welcomed Seth Wilcox.

Faculty and staff members also heard from Pike County Schools Superintendent Dr. Mark Bazzell on different topics of interest including the Legislature, Common Core and other issues the schools systems are facing.

“Education in the last four or five years in Alabama has really been under the gun,” Bazzell said. “All the different bills that have been passed and all the different things that have been done in the Legislature, when you look at the effect of all those things, those things have really hurt us. I’m talking about the $50 million that was diverted out of the Education Trust Fund to support what is really winding up to just be a voucher program for kids who attend private schools. It’s not just happening in the legislative branch, it’s happening everywhere.”

Bazzell also commented on the current issues public school systems are facing across the state with the voucher program aimed to help students transfer out of failing schools into better performing schools.

“The truth is, we’re operating at levels of funding that are lower than 2008, and you guys have not had a pay raise since 2008,” Bazzell said. “That program was sold on choice to help students in failing schools get out. Less than 30 percent of the kids using those scholarships are coming from failing schools. Seventy percent of the kids that are getting the scholarships are students that were already in private schools. They sold it on the back of school choice, but that’s not what it is. That $50 million, had it been allocated toward salary increases, it could have given teachers a 1.5 percent pay raise … It’s absolutely disgraceful that we haven’t taken care of our education employees.”

Teachers also heard from Dr. Donnella Carter on the past year’s ASPIRE testing, which served as an assessment for students within the school system. While Carter said there was much work to be done with students, especially the middle school grades, many students met expectations or were close to meeting them.

“Our third- through eighth-graders took it as well as our tenth-graders,” Carter said. “It’s going to take a lot of us changing and shifting. What used to be in fourth grade is now down in second grade. What used to be in eighth grade is now down in sixth grade. You have to be clear about what we need to teach. I want to challenge you. Our focus this year for our principals is still standard instruction, but I want to encourage you to on your own do you independent research of how you can better deliver those standards to your students.”

The event culminated with the celebration of teachers who had spent 10, 15, 20, 30 and even 35 years within the Pike County School System. Teachers were honored with pins for their years of service.

Teachers who were honored included: Ranita DeJesus, 10 years; Melissa Disney-Smith, 10 years; Martha Dykes, 10 years; Bernell Ford, 10 years; Mark Head, 10 years; Jennifer Hornsby, 10 years; Jessica Moran, 10 years; Sonia Stewart, 10 years; Jessican Tatum, 10 years; Stephanie Tucker, 10 years; Amy Warrick, 10 years; Willie Wright, 10 years; Voncile Flowers, 15 years; Latonia Foster, 15 years; Alberta Miles, 15 years; Sharon Denison, 20 years; Fred Holland, 20 years; Cheryl Penny, 20 years; Regina Catrett, 25; Vanessa Johnson, 25 years; JoAnna Kilpatrick, 25 years; Karen Langston, 25 years; Florence May, 25 years; Virginia Cheatham, 30 years; Linda Newman, 30 years; Debbie Kelly, 30 years and Debbie Coley, 30 years. Principals Haslam and Major Lane were also honored along with assistant principal Tony May.

Most notable of the teachers honored was Barbara Holladay, who has dedicated 35 years to driving a bus for the school system. Holladay said she has driven the same route all those years. Along with her pin, Holladay was honored by a standing ovation from all in attendance.

Pike County Schools will officially open their doors to students Aug. 10 the first day of classes.