acsf-logoThe Athens City Schools Foundation (ACSF) hosted the Inaugural Teacher of the Year Gratitude Banquet in November at Athens State University. This event honored all Athens City Schools Teachers of the Year.

The ASCF board of directors hosted the event to recognize excellence in teaching and serve as a celebration of public education.

Dr. Chris Hamilton, executive director of the ACSF, said, “The event celebrates the sincere gratitude we have for the dedication and commitment exhibited by these teachers at an event that includes their colleagues, family and friends.”

The event was hosted at Athens State University in the ballroom. The theme was Thanksgiving inspired to honor and reflect the sense of gratitude and thanks the board of directors wanted to express to the teachers of ACS.

Andrew Risner

Andrew Risner of Athens High School was named district Teacher of the Year for secondary education. Andrew is in his seventh year of teaching at AHS. He holds his M.A. in Education from UNA. He teaches Algebra and Principles of Engineering. He and his wife, Luaren, are involved in church music ministry . They have two sons, Jentzen and Isaac. Andrew, Lauren and Isaac live in Florence.

Michelle Smith of Athens Intermediate School was selected as district Teacher of the Year for elementary education. She is a fifth grade science and social studies teacher. A graduate of Auburn, she earned her degree in Elementary Education. This is her ninth year as a teacher at AIS. Michelle is married to Russell, and they have three children, Jake, Hannah and Mary Beth.

Michelle Smith

Individual school winners are nominated by their peers. Each school selected a TOY.

  • Athens Elementary:  Susan Hughes
  • Brookhill Elementary:  Sara Welcher
  • Cowart Elementary:  Cassandra Beaty
  • Julian Newman Elementary:  Lori Hobbs
  • Athens Intermediate:  Michelle Smith
  • Athens Middle:  Jenny Lind Johnstone
  • Athens High:  Andrew Risner
  • Athens Renaissance:  Casey Little

Each school’s Teacher of the Year received a single red rose and and a specially engraved golden apple award trophy. They were also awarded an individual cash prize of $200 each. The district Teachers of the Year each received a dozen roses, a specially engraved trophy and an additional $100 cash award.

Athens State University Ballroom

The roses were provided by The Enchanted Florist of Athens. The dinner was prepared by LuVici’s of Athens. The menu was in the spirit of the season, consisting of chicken and dressing, green beans, mashed potatoes and gravy. The meal was completed with a dessert of warm chocolate cherry cobbler.

ACSF Board of Directors

The meal was served by the Athens City Schools Foundation board members personally. They wore festive aprons in the spirit of Thanksgiving, with fall colors, plaids and leaves.

Live classical piano music and photography services were provided by Athens High School students.

The banquet was supported by community members, teachers, families, members of the Athens City Council, members of the Board of Education and corporate sponsors.

The corporate sponsors included SwitchDesk, Martin and Cobey, Morell Engineering, Goodwyn Mills Cawood, Ashai Kasei and Trane.

The secondary and elementary winners were selected by a a district-wide committee to represent ACS at the state competition. The selection committee is made up of five members, including Superintendent Dr. Trey Holladay, one member of the Board of Education, two TOY winners from the previous year and one parent-at-large from the ACS system. The selection process is anonymous and meritocratic.

Risner and Smith represented  Athens in the state competition for Alabama Teacher of the Year.

The National TOY is selected from TOY in each state by a national committee representing the major national education organizations. Each year in the spring, the NTOY is introduced to the American people by the President of the United States.




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