Now candidates for state award
By RANDY TATANO
Special to Atmore News
After nearly a decade without entering a teacher into Alabama’s Teacher of the Year contest, Escambia County Schools has two of its finest competing for the title.
Leslie Wedgeworth, a third-grade teacher at Flomaton Elementary, and Tyler Parker, a math teacher at Escambia County Middle School, have been nominated to represent the school system.
Wedgeworth received rave reviews from her principal, Courtney McBride. “She is a creative problem solver and a woman who loves kids; she puts their emotional needs before their academic needs. She wins their hearts so she can win their heads.”
Parker got a glowing endorsement from Rachel Patterson Elementary Principal Toya McMillian, who worked with him at his current school. “Mr. Parker definitely raised the bar of success for his students; not only to be college and career ready, but disciplined, successful, and productive citizens and future contributors to society. He makes a difference in the lives of our students every day.”
New Superintendent Michele McClung was surprised to find the county had not been nominating teachers for the award.
“I’ve had several county teachers of the year on staff and Alabama’s State Teacher of the Year, Ms. Chasity Collier, on my staff in 2018,” she said “I recognize how valuable it is to participate in the state’s Teacher of the Year program. Administrators including superintendents have a responsibility to lift up excellent teachers in education, a profession that is diminishing. We want them to share their ‘why’ in choosing this profession. We want then to collaborate with others and serve as a resource to struggling teachers. Moreover, I cannot think of a more noble profession to honor excellence than that of teaching! We are proud of our teachers and participating in the state’s Teacher of the Year program gives us an opportunity to authenticate the value we see in our educators.”
Wedgeworth and Parker will compete with other teachers in District One, which includes Escambia, Mobile, Baldwin, Butler, Covington, Crenshaw and Conecuh counties. The winner in this district will go on to compete with winners in the other seven state districts and will receive grants for classroom and/or instructional improvement.
Brewton resident Randy Tatano is a veteran TV news reporter and network producer, and is currently a novelist and freelance writer for the Escambia County School System.