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Hamilton County Names Tops Teachers of 2012

Three Hamilton County teachers reign as royalty this week, as they are honored as the 2012 Hamilton County Teachers of the Year. The teachers and their principals will be recognized at a special lunch at the Chattanoogan Hotel on Friday, March 30 from 11 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.

Sherry Johnston from Nolan Elementary, Joan Roueche from Hunter Middle School and Leah Keith-Houle from Red Bank High School were named 2012 HCDE Teachers of the Year. This is the first time that all three teachers have also been selected as regional teachers of the year and have advanced to the statewide competition.

To celebrate their accomplishments, the honorees will ride in a limousine to the Chattanoogan Hotel Friday, March 30 for a special recognition luncheon from 11-12:30. The luxury ride and lunch are hosted by Ray Barr, president and owner of United Service Associates in Athens.

“It is very special when we honor outstanding teachers for their dedication to our students. The greatest asset any school system can have is outstanding teachers, “ said Stacey Roddy, Director of Elementary Math & Science, who coordinates the awards. “We know from research that teacher effectiveness is directly related to improving student achievement. These three teachers have dedicated themselves to the success of their students and they deserve this recognition and so much more.”

The following are highlights of the 2012 Hamilton County Schools Teachers of the Year:

Sherry Johnston, 4th Grade, Nolan Elementary, Grades K-4 Division
• 20 years teaching experience
• 19 years teaching experience in Tennessee public schools
• Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education, Austin Peay State University, Clarksville, TN
• Post-graduate Program, Austin Peay State University, Clarksville, TN
• HCEA Association Representative for Nolan Elementary
• Response to Intervention Grade level Chair
• Mentor teacher
• Literacy Presenter
• Green Apple Award – Award given to an outstanding teacher with less than three years experience: 1992-93
• Golden Apple Award : 1994-95
• Nolan Elementary PTA Teacher Award – 2005, 2009
• “Each day, I strive to provide my students with an environment that encourages them to make mistakes, ask questions, try different approaches, and to be accepting of others, “ Mrs. Johnston said. “I consider my greatest accomplishments to be those daily breakthroughs when you see the light in a student’s eyes when understanding is achieved. Such “aha” moments continue to reaffirm and build upon my love of teaching and learning each day!”
• “I am constantly amazed and remain so to this day, at the possibilities for making learning relevant and exciting,” Mrs. Johnston said. “I believe that each child has both the right and the ability to learn, and it is a teacher’s charge to do everything within their power to make this possible.”
• “As a teacher, it is important to understand that education is constantly changing, with a constant evolution of new philosophies offering exciting new tools and ideas to help us to teach more effectively,” Mrs. Johnston said. “I am a strong advocate of continued professional development, and as such, it is very important for me to stay current with continuous learning.”
• Mrs. Johnston states, “I believe there to be no greater pleasure than having the opportunity to guide a student on their quest for knowledge and then see them successfully reach their goals.”
• “Mrs. Johnston presents herself in a very professional manner, is a master in regards to subject content and pedagogy, and a teacher leader within our schools,” Nolan Elementary Principal Dr. Shane Harwood wrote in his letter of recommendation. “Despite the accolades, one quickly finds Mrs. Johnston to be very humble with her greatest rewards coming in the form of seeing students’ daily successes in learning.”
• “Mrs. Johnston has earned a reputation as an excellent teacher with passion and dedication to the teaching profession,” said Superintendent Mr. Rick Smith in his letter of recommendation. “She is well respected by her peers and gives both her time and expertise to enhance the educational experiences of her students and colleagues. She volunteers countless hours to tutoring students before and after school.”
• A colleague, Kathryne Daniel stated, “While working with her, I have been continually impressed with her commitment to excellence. She is uncompromising in her drive for quality educational opportunities for all of her students, past and present. She is articulate and compassionate. She is forthright and keeps team members motivated and enthusiastic with her positive energy.”

Joan Roueche, Science, Grade 8, Hunter Middle School, Grades 5-8 Division

• 19 years teaching experience
• 19 years teaching experience in Tennessee public schools
• Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education, University of Tennessee at Chattanooga
• Master of Science in Geosciences, Mississippi State University
• Nonfiction Writing Diploma, NRI Schools, Washington DC
• Member of National Science Teachers Association (NSTA)
• Member of Association of Supervision and Curriculum Development (ASCD)
• Leadership Fellow – Cohort 9, Public Education Foundation
• Presenter, District-wide professional development sessions
• Principal’s Advisory Council
• Parish Pastoral Council – Education
• Leader, Adult Bible Study
• Outstanding New Classroom Teacher of the Year 1997
• Hunter Middle School Yearbook Dedicatory 2002
• Teacher of Excellence Award 2003-04
• Voted Most Influential Middle School Teacher by the top 10% of the senior class at Central High School 2006
• “Genius? No. Pay? Definitely not. Genetics? Maybe. Love? Most assuredly. My love for teaching was the biggest factor influencing me to the profession, but it was not until I was 28 years old that I made that discovery,” Mrs. Roueche said.
• “My main contribution to students, faculty, and parents is not just expertise in my subject matter, but the giving of time,” Mrs. Roueche said. “One gives time to the things that he/she thinks are important. I understand that time is an investment in the lives of the students and teachers at my school, and mine has been invested in them.”
• “I have received several teaching awards/acknowledgements, for which I feel greatly humbled and honored. However, I consider none of these to be my greatest accomplishment. Instead, I would prefer to receive simple words I never tire of hearing from my students: Thank you, Ms. Roueche, for caring about me,” Mrs. Roueche said. “If students understand this fact, that there is a teacher who truly cares, then they will have the foundation for pursuing even greater heights in learning.”
• “As a classroom teacher, I believe 1) every student is unique 2) good classroom discipline is built upon trust and consistency 3) teacher and student relationships are important 4) teacher must hold high expectations of students 5) teachers must be constant learners, “ Mrs. Roueche said. “Great teachers find their ultimate reward in the excellence and growth of their students.”
• “Mrs. Roueche is the epitome of a highly effective teacher,” Hunter Middle School Principal Robert Alford wrote in his letter of recommendation. “She is a talented educator with a resilient desire and sincere passion to influence the lives of students. She brings enthusiasm, organization, and tenacious work ethic to her many roles at Hunter Middle School.”
• “It is her life mission to inspire students of all backgrounds to not only master the subject matter at hand, but also to instill in them a lifelong desire to learn,” Middle School Director Steve Holmes said in his letter of recommendation. “Mrs. Roueche is a model educator. Her enthusiasm, skills, and passion to train today’s youth allow her to rise to the top of the class.”
• A colleague, Melissa Roop stated, “Mrs. Roueche brings to our department a wealth of knowledge fostered by a continual desire to learn. She is both passionate and thorough in her pursuit of excellence. Mrs. Roueche truly cares about her students. She sees education as a partnership with the family and stays in contact with parents. She has over 125 students, yet each one knows they are special to her.”

Leah Keith-Houle, Honor’s Chemistry, Geology, Astronomy, and Scientific Research, Red Bank High School, Grades 9-12 Division
• 13 years of teaching experience
• 12.5 years of teaching experience in TN public schools
• Industrial Engineering – Tennessee Technological University
• Bachelor of Science in Geology, University of Tennessee at Chattanooga
• Masters in Education, University of Tennessee at Chattanooga
• SETI/Astrobiology training/certification, University of San Francisco, CA
• Environmental Science AP certification, Chappell Hill, NC and Tampa, FL
• Instructor, Water Quality class for Geology Department at University of Tennessee at Chattanooga
• Science Department Head, Red Bank High School
• Technology Academy Lead Teacher, Red Bank High School
• Member of SETI, Planetary Society, and Ad Astra
• Administrative Co-Director for Tennessee – Open Street Map
• GIS/OSM presenter at TN GIS, Gatlinburg, Atlanta, Knoxville 2011
• Nominated for Tennessee Science Teacher of the Year 2011
• Honorable Mention from Petroleum Geologist National Society 2011
• Received 4th in the nation along with scientific research class for NASA/Lunar Planetary Institute – high school competition on mapping on the Moon 2011
• Who’s Who in America’s Teachers 2002, 2010
• “Science education is a life-long process of discovery learning, practicing and realization of the incremental and explosive nature of the scientific unknown,” Mrs. Keith-Houle said. “Science teachers act as guides and coaches for the learner; they help tame the wilderness down into a safe discovery zone of exploration.”
• “I am a firm believer that relevant core knowledge is imperative to the learner’s ability to begin practicing a new learning skill or application,” Mrs. Keith-Houle said. “The use of technology in the classroom has vastly improved my student’s interest level and made practicing almost hidden behind the screen in both science and mathematics.”
• “I have made a conscious effort to MAKE IT REAL as much as possible in my class,” Mrs. Keith-Houle said. “My goal in science education is very simple, it is to help our children to discover new ideas and thoughts, give our students tools, skills, courage, stamina and practice to create a brave new world for themselves.”
• “Mrs. Keith-Houle makes the science classroom come alive for her students. She involves students in many relevant hands-on activities including science labs and scientific research,” Red Bank High School Principal Gail Chuy wrote in her letter of recommendation. “Mrs. Keith-Houle is respected by her students and colleagues for the positive outlook that she brings to our building every day of the year. She places her students’ needs and capabilities among her highest priorities. Her expectations for her students are matched only by the expectations she places on herself.”
• “Mrs. Keith-Houle is considered a valuable asset to our teaching staff. Her energy and commitment to the teaching profession is exemplary,” Assistant Superintendent Robert Sharpe said in his letter of recommendation. “She is a district leader in science education. Her focus on project-based, hands-on learning brings relevance and meaning to the classroom experience of her students.”
• A colleague, Linda Boran stated, “Leah is definitely a stand out teacher. Whether she is encouraging her students to examine their own backyard or to look to the moon, she challenges them with real world exciting projects that make science and research come alive. Her students were the first to Open Street Map in the nation and her students were doing work that would be used as data for Mapquest. They are currently working on mapping earthquake prone areas in Indonesia, in hopes that these maps will help if a crisis were to happen in these areas again.”

Hamilton County Names Tops Teachers of 2012

Wednesday, March 28 2012, 03:25 PM EDT

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