By RANDY TATANO
Special to Atmore News
Escambia County Schools has chosen its top teachers in the system and entered them in the competition to determine the best teachers in the state.
W.S. Neal Elementary School second grade teacher Rachel Wiggins was honored as the county’s Elementary Teacher of the Year, while Escambia County Career Readiness Center’s automotive technology teacher Thomas Fischer will represent the school system in the Secondary Education category.
Wiggins, in her 20th year in the classroom, actually started teaching full-time while eight months pregnant. She finds education to be a very fulfilling profession as she watches the future unfold while making sure each student feels at home in her classroom.
“Your reward will be great as you watch the future generations develop,” she said. “Every day I try to do my best to reach each and every one of them, academically and emotionally. It is important they know that I care about them and believe in them and their ability.”
Fischer, who developed his love of cars as a teenager working in his uncle’s garage, has a decade of teaching experience as he trains the mechanics of the future. He said it’s important to expose students to the real world of an automotive career.
“Give students a tool, they will try,” Fischer said. “Give students proper resources, they will succeed. As an instructor, we are the resource. We demonstrate to the students how professionals work within a shop environment.”
Superintendent Michele McClung said it’s important to honor exceptional teachers.
“I want to congratulate all of the teachers of the year in each school,” she said. “The district’s committee had a difficult task in selecting the elementary and secondary Teacher of the Year to represent Escambia County. As a former principal of the 2017 Alabama Teacher of the Year, I recognize the value in personally recognizing excellence in education and promoting teaching as a wonderful and rewarding profession. Escambia County is blessed to be home to the most wonderful and caring teachers I’ve ever known. I’m proud of Mrs. Wiggins and Mr. Fischer and I’ll be cheering them on in the process.”
Wiggins and Fischer will compete in Alabama District One, which includes Escambia, Baldwin, Conecuh, Covington, Coffee, and Crenshaw counties, and parts of Mobile County. The winners of this district will go on to compete for the state title. The Alabama Teacher of the Year will be entered in the National Teacher of the Year program.
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.