Amarillo ISD names Teachers of the Year

Amarillo Independent School District announced their Lamar Lively Teachers of the Year for elementary and secondary during their Friday morning.

Elementary winner Allison Woodington and Secondary winner Shanna Peeples will go on to represent Amarillo ISD at the Region 16 Teacher of the Year even held later this summer.

These district Teachers of the Year are symbolic of the quality educators in the Amarillo community. With more than 2,200 teachers employed by AISD, representing them all is of great honor. Woodington and Peeples have been awarded $500 from the Lamar Lively Fund at the Amarillo Area Foundation and $300 from the Amarillo Education Foundation. In addition, Southwest Airlines provided each winner with two round-trip tickets to anywhere the airline flies.

"Our district Teachers of the Year are shining examples of the caliber of teaching professionals in AISD who are dedicated to delivering quality instruction in a caring environment every day," said Program Director for Community Partnerships Denise Blanchard.

Elementary Teacher of the Year Allison Woodington teaches kindergarten at Carver Early Childhood Academy. She attributes active engagement, innovative technology, learning groups and dedication to her students' success as keys to the high achievement in her classroom.

Woodington's kindergarten students are already working at high levels of discernment and creativity. They use iPads and the Educreation application to demonstrate their own learning and share it with others. Under her guidance, differentiated for each student's needs, 5 and 6-year olds read to one another, work together to solve problems, and teach one another with regularity. These projects make effective use of what a curriculum assessment specialist called Woodington's ability to "reach a struggling student with empathy and complete professionalism accelerate and challenge her brightest students."

"I'm honored and blessed and just thankful. I'm so excited to represent all the elementary teachers in the entire district," said Woodington.

When asked what her favorite part of teaching is, "That ahhh moment. You know in kindergarten and you get those babies who this is their first year of school and you know by the end of the year, they're getting everything and it's a phenomenal feeling, " said Woodington.

Secondary Teacher of the Year Shanna Peeples teaches English Language Arts at Palo Duro High School. Her students represent a wide variety of background and skill, and they flourish under her instruction and guidance.

Peeples said, "my favorite part about teaching is seeing and watching students change and mature and grow into really wonderful people".

As Palo Duro Principal Sandy Whitlow says, "She has been instrumental in leading the English department at PDHS." Whitlow goes on to say as an ALI I literacy expert, Peeples leads teachers in the implementation of reading and writing lessons at workshops. Welcoming all learners, Peeples teaches students who have not been able to pass the STAAR test in addition to her eleventh grade AP course. Coworker Julie Tittle says "her support, care, mercy and kindness create a safe environment" where students can explore and examine their beliefs and dreams. A student writes, "she treats every student who comes to her with the same mindset: everybody, no matter their background or circumstance, can reach their potential and shine."

Teacher of the Year Elementary Finalists:

- Melynn Freeman, 3rd Grade Language Arts Teacher at Coronado Elementary

- Toni Salinas, 4th Grade Reading and Writing Teacher at South Lawn Elementary

Teacher of the Year Secondary Finalists:

- Jill Bradford, Orchestra Teacher at Austin Middle School

- Jennifer Garner, Math Models and EOC Prep Teacher at Caprock High School

The Region 16 Teachers of the Year will be named and all semi-finalists will be recognized during the general session of the i3 Conference on August 20, 2014 at the Amarillo Civic Center.