Of the Years Announced

On Wednesday, April 3rd, schools in Mount Airy City Schools announced their 2024-2025 Teachers of the Year and Employees of the Year while the district named its Beginning Teacher (BT) of the Year, Bus Driver of the Year, Central Office Employee of the Year, Career and Technical Education (CTE) Teacher of the Year, Exceptional Children's (EC) Teacher of the Year, School Nutrition Employee of the Year and School Nutrition Manager of the Year. 

Board members along with district and school leaders joined to form the day’s Prize Patrol to surprise each deserving employee with the exciting news along with items from Mount Airy High School’s Blue Bear Cafe, Blooming Bear, and its entrepreneur shop. Both students and peers joined in on the announcements and helped make this a memorable moment for these individuals.

The caravan started the day at Mount Airy High School where five worthy recognitions were to be made. Principal Jason Dorsett led the group to the first stop in the newly renovated CTE building where CTE teacher Garrett Howlett was found in his Aerospace Engineering class. Howlett’s students cheered upon hearing Dr. Olivia Sikes share that he was named Mount Airy City School’s CTE Teacher of the Year.

Howlett’s nominator shared that, “Garrett works incredibly hard to build meaningful relationships with his students and goes above and beyond in his role. He also ensures that his classes are fun, engaging, and thought-provoking.”

Dorsett quickly found Chris Mack, custodian, at work in the CTE building and surprised him with the crowd and announcement that the staff at MAHS overwhelmingly selected him as MAHS’s Employee of the Year.

Mack’s nominations included, “Chris goes above and beyond and always has a great attitude. He works very hard and takes pride in his work.”

The patrol then headed to the math and science wing to find Dawson Shropshire during his planning period. Shropshire was pleasantly surprised by the group walking into his room and Penny Willard announcing he had been named MACS BT Teacher of the Year.

Willard noted, “Mr. Shropshire is a highly reflective first-year teacher with a strong desire to grow professionally so that he can best support his students. We are delighted to have him represent our district’s beginning teacher program.”

The group then found their way to surprising the next individual with not one but two recognitions. Abby Gallimore was caught by surprise as she was taking her students to their Wellness Wednesday activity by a packed hallway of people. She quickly learned she had been named the MACS EC Teacher of the Year and the MAHS Teacher of the Year by her peers.

Gallimore’s nominations stated, “Abby goes above and beyond in the classroom and outside of the classroom. She works diligently to help her students have the best high school experience and support they need. She works all hours of the day and evening to help the athletics programs be incredibly successful. She makes high school a great place to be!”

JJ Jones Intermediate School was the patrol’s next stop. Principal Dalton Tedder led the group to surprise the first face families see as they visit. Finance Officer Diana Hiatt learned that the staff had selected her as the Jones Employee of the Year. 

Hiatt’s peers noted, “Mrs. Hiatt is an efficient staff member who carries out her duties, often without seeking recognition. She is a hard worker behind the scenes and always ensures that the school runs smoothly. Her positive attitude brightens the days of students and colleagues.”

The group then visited the 4th grade hallway to surprise Michele Wertman who was leading her students. Wertman was surprised to hear that she had been named the Jones Teacher of the Year by her peers. Students cheered and quickly jumped up to enjoy the moment with their teacher.

Wertman’s colleagues expressed that, “Michele is a hard worker who cares about her students and goes above and beyond to make meaningful connections. She not only works hard to grow her students but she works hard to grow in her profession and support her team.”

School Nutrition Director Celena Watson then led the group to the cafeteria to surprise Manager Robin Semones with an announcement. Semones was surprised to see the group in the cafeteria as she learned she had been named the School Nutrition Manager of the Year. 

Watson shared, “Robin’s hard work, compassion, and dedication truly make a difference in the lives of our students, and we are incredibly fortunate to have her leading our Jones cafeteria team.”

The Prize Patrol stopped by the Community Central Office to surprise the hard-working School Nutrition Supervisor Melissa A. Martin. Martin works to serve the director and supervise the school cafeteria employees in their tremendous efforts to feed students and staff across the district. 

Watson expressed, “Melissa is a very caring and hardworking school nutrition professional. She uses her boundless energy to make sure our program is up and running daily to serve our students and staff. She is always willing to help out in the kitchens when needed and has helped to implement the new Titan program for our operations. She is a blessing to all of us who are privileged to work with her.” 

The next stop for the crowd was Mount Airy Middle School. Principal Levi Goins stopped the group at the door to execute a surprise announcement. Social Worker Antonia Cawley was called to the office to hear the exciting news that she had been selected as Central Office Employee of the Year by her peers.

Cawley’s nominators shared, “Antonia has consistently gone above and beyond in support of the students in our district. She has also provided useful insight across multiple teams throughout her career with us and volunteers her time without hesitation.”

The next stop was the Career Cafe where Jamie Martin was surprised to have the group enter her room. Goins announced to her class that the staff at the school had chosen their teacher to be the MAMS Employee of the Year.

Martin’s nominations stated, “She promotes and inspires greatness and the greater good. She has a special way of connecting with students and students love and respect her. She works nonstop for them, and they reciprocate.”

The announcements continued in the 6th grade hallway where EC Teacher Anne Hardy was surprised to learn that she had been named the MAMS Teacher of the Year by her peers. 

Hardy’s peers wrote, “Mrs. Hardy goes above and beyond the call of duty in and out of her classroom. She has always been dedicated to continuously developing and improving her teaching skills to keep each one of her students engaged.”

The final recognition before leaving MAMS was made when Principal Goins called Dean Combs to the office where he was shocked to see the large group waiting for him. Emily Hardy then came forward to share with Combs that he had been selected as the MACS Bus Driver of the Year.

Transportation Coordinator Jon Doss noted, “Dean is a team player and is always willing to go the extra mile for our students. His fellow bus drivers selected him for this award and to represent them. He is bus driver for middle and high school students and has a great relationship with students as he also serves as the middle school custodian.”

The final campus for the day’s announcements was BH Tharrington Primary School. Principal Chelsy Payne led the group to the first-grade pod where Tara Hill was found teaching. The group entered the room and Payne announced to the students that their teacher had been named BHT’s Teacher of the Year. Students cheered and jumped up to celebrate with her. 

Hill’s peers write, “Hill meets students right where they need to be met and celebrates small and big achievements. She works hard and finds new and fun ways to make learning engaging and fun. She is also a team player and great with her communication with parents.”

The Prize Patrol’s final job was to announce to the school’s EC teaching assistant, Kate Snow, that she had been selected by her peers as the BHT Employee of the Year. 

Nominations for her included, “She collaborates with other staff members and steps up going above and beyond to provide her students with instruction for academic, communication, social, sensory, and life skills needed. Her students are growing to their fullest potential because of the dedication, consistency, and heart that she brings to the classroom.”

MACS will name its Teacher of the Year and Employee of the Year at the district’s end-of-the-year picnic in June.