Simmons named city teacher of the yearPublished 11:55am Friday, August 9, 2013
Teaching is as much of a calling as a job. And at the teacher in-service day Wednesday, the Alexander City Board of Education honored those who answered the call – and then some.
The board announced teachers of the year for all its schools and one teacher was chosen above them all to be receiving the system wide honor.
That woman was Alexander City Middle School math teacher Tonya Simmons.
Dr. Beverly Price serves as the principal of ACMS. When it comes to Simmons, Price said she didn’t even know where to start.
“She is innovative, energetic and enthusiastic – the care she has for her students comes out in her teaching,” Price said. “She takes time to make sure the lessons she plans are going to reach every one of her students.”
Simmons is an Alexander City native and was raised in the city school system. She is currently in her eighth year teaching and said she was completely surprised when she heard her name called.
“I was completely floored and honored to be recognized by so many individuals who shaped who I am today,” Simmons said.
Price said Simmons engages students and helps them arrive at the answer in their own way.
“She is a teacher who likes to let the students explore and see there is more than one way to get the right answer,” Price said.
Learning through experience, Simmons said, is a big part of her teaching philosophy.
“I believe in them having to do to learn – it is more than just sitting back and listening,” Simmons said.
Simmons was chosen from a pool of four other teachers. Connie Pridgen was named teacher of the year for Benjamin Russell High School, and Lynn Commander took the honors for Radney School. Jennifer Sprayberry took top honors for Stephens Elementary School, and Linda Dennis was teacher of the year for Jim Pearson.
Alexander City Schools called upon the help of the Chamber of Commerce to provide an impartial panel that interviewed all the candidates.
“We tried find people who knew nothing about these candidates,” said chamber director and CEO Ann Rye.
Rye said the panel had a combined 98 years of experience in education and hailed from three states, bringing with them everything from administrative to classroom expertise. The panel named Simmons TOTY after interviewing each candidate for 45 minutes.
“I think all of the candidates were very qualified – the panel mentioned that it was a tough decision,” Rye said. “It is a privilege for us to be a part of this process because our school system makes a difference in our ability to attract people and businesses in our area.”