The banquet was held on September 13, at the James H. Rainwater Conference Center with over 150 people in attendance. The evening was spent highlighting each school's Teacher of the Year and ended with naming the 2018-19 Valdosta City Schools Teacher of the Year.
Ms. Holly Stone, 2017-18 VCS Teacher of the Year, introduced each winner by reading a little from each of their application packets.
Dr. Jacquline McCaskey from J. L. Lomax Elementary said, "Learner autonomy plays an important part in the classroom. “I believe students value their education when they take control and responsibility for their own learning.” They should be inspired to believe they have the knowledge and ability to accomplish anything. Learner autonomy plays an important part in the classroom. “I believe students value their education when they take control and responsibility for their own learning.” They should be inspired to believe they have the knowledge and ability to accomplish anything."
Timothy Williams from Pinevale Elementary said, "It takes hard work, great effort, and dedication to see positive changes in things such as grades, behavior, attitudes, expectations and attendance. This task can’t be placed upon one person or a set group, it must take everyone. Are you motivated and dedicated enough to effect change within your school?"
Jane Teasley from Sallas Mahone Elementary School believes "if we teach students to try their best and believe in themselves, then one day they will tap into their fullest potential. They will never know their true gifts if they are allowed to give up and quit trying."
Anna Knuckles from S. L. Mason Elementary School said, "Teaching is a calling that stretches beyond content. The success of students comes through multiple avenues, and not always academically. Teaching is a tangible way to contribute to the community and sparks the minds of the next generation of leaders."
Amanda Dobard from W. G. Nunn Elementary School said, "I want students to understand that no dream is too big to accomplish. That no matter what obstacle you encounter in life there is someone who has already jumped over that hurdle and is paving the way for you."
Tara Head from J. L. Newbern Middle School said, "Education is filled with our greatest hope in the world – our students. It takes stakeholders- teachers, staff, students, parents, the community, and community leaders to make it happen. Teachers that build relationships do not just have students for one year, they have students’ who view them as “their” teacher for life.
Stephen Crosby from Valdosta Middle School believes, "To be successful, teachers must buy-in and become invested in the students. Teachers must be willing to make sacrifices in exchange for the opportunity to change a student’s life."
Lydia Hunnicut from Horne Learning Center said, "Education occurs not only in the classroom. It must transcend the boundaries of four walls and relate to the environment beyond. Even for those students who have a laser vision on what their future will hold it is imperative to expose them to all manner of opportunities."
Timeka Ross from Valdosta Early College Academy believes, Taking care of self to serve others is an important connector to my classroom because working together brings a positive change in the lives of ourselves and others. My classroom is a sanctuary where students are expected to use their knowledge as power and change agents to help and serve others."
And finally, the 2018-19 VCS Teacher of the Year, Jessica Whylly was honored when a former student, Jose Alvarez, had this to say, "Mrs. Jessica Whylly is an advocate for public school education, an outstanding teacher and a legacy. She did not just provide me with textbook knowledge; she gave me an education for life. As an educator, she goes beyond the four walls."
Also during the program, the 2017-18 Media Specialist of the Year, Linda Sermons introduced the 2018-19 Media Specialist of the Year, Michelle Beaufort of Sallas Mahone Elementary School.
At the conclusion of the evening, all honorees were presented with gift baskets full of cash and prizes donated by generous Community Partners in Education.
Special thanks to the following donors: Adams Orthodontics, Austin's Cattle Company, Barberito's, Big Nick's, Bojangles’, Chamber of Commerce, Checkers/Blimpie Subs & Sandwiches, Chick fil A - North Valdosta, Chicken Salad Chick, Coca Cola, Colquitt EMC, Commercial Banking Company, Covington's/306 North, Davis Creations, Elliano's, Fazoli's, First Commerce Credit Union, The Flower Gallery, Guardian Bank, Horace Mann Insurance, Jessie's Restaurant and Catering, Jimmy John's, Jodi's Accessories, The Learning Tree, Mass Mutual, Mellow Mushroom, Moe's Southwest Grill, Only Options, Papa John's, Perfect Settings, Rutland Low Voltage, Sam's Club, SmallCakes - A Cupcakery, Southeastern Credit Union, South Georgia Medical Center, Sunset Farms, SunStop, Surcheros, Synovus, Valdosta Lowndes Industrial Authority, Wiregrass Georgia Technical College, Wilkinson's, Winnersville Awards, and Valdosta City Schools Professional Learning Department.