CREATE honors educators in Tupelo

TUPELO – Being named one of the Tupelo Public School District’s Teachers of Distinction can put many educators in a celebratory mood.
But it made Tupelo High School Senior English teacher April Friar more reflective on Friday afternoon.
“There is more work to do,” said Friar, who was one of 10 teachers in the district who were recognized as a Teacher of Distinction.
Three assistant teachers from the district were also honored at Friday’s ceremony during a joint meeting of the Tupelo Kiwanis and Rotary clubs at the Summit Convention Center.
“You can never be complacent,” Friar continued. “It makes me want to do more. It also reminds me of everyone who contributed – students, teachers, parents, administrators and faith.”
The CREATE Foundation recognizes at least 10 teachers and up to three assistant teachers every year.
Nominations are made by students, parents, teachers, administrators, other school district employees or community citizens. An external committee chooses the winners.
This year, 55 teachers and eight assistant teachers were nominated.
In addition to Friar, the winning teachers were Sherry Rial, Terry Leigh Clayton, Paulette Agnew, Patricia Griffin, Linda Grimmett, Traci Wardlaw, Christy Jordan, Shelley Miller and Kay Moore.
The assistant teachers of distinction were Lekata Word, Shena Sorrell and Jennifer Kyle.
“It speaks to the quality of excellence we have when we hire teachers and to the quality of excellence we expect of them every day,” Tupelo Superintendent Randy Shaver said.
Shaver told the audience that he was “humbled and proud” of all of the nominated teachers and assistant teachers.
“I want to say how very proud I am of you, how proud I am to work with you and how proud I am to be one of you every day of the school year,” Shaver said.
The winning teachers each received $1,000 checks, while the winning assistant teachers were given $500.
The financial awards were endowed by the CREATE Innovations in Education Endowment Fund; Mitchell, McNutt and Sams Law Firm; the Booth Family Endowment Fund; the Reed Family Trust Endowment Fund; the Marilyn and Bob Monroe Endowment Fund; and the Jimmy Williams Memorial Education Endowment Fund.
Close friends Rial, a physical education teacher at Carver Elementary, and Miller, a math teacher at Tupelo High School, were excited to each be chosen. The two coach soccer and tennis together at Tupelo High School.
“That’s very special,” Rial said. “We are together every day, and we share a common vision. It is awesome for us to win an award for our teaching.”
Miller said she was surprised when her name was called.
“It is my first time to be nominated so I didn’t know much about it,” Miller said. “I thought I was going to eat lunch and honor a lot of good teachers.”
Rial, who had been previously nominated, said being named a teacher of distinction was very meaningful.
“I have seen the teachers who have won before, and they were all really deserving,” Rial said. “It is a real honor.”

Contact Chris Kieffer at (662) 678-1590 or

2010 Nominees
(winners in bold)
• Carver – Emily Morris
• Early Childhood Education Center –
Susan Kim Scott
• Joyner – Lekata Word
• Lawhon – Shena Sorrell
• Pierce Street – Jennifer Kyle
• Thomas Street – Vickie Shumpert,
Juanita Smith
• Tupelo Middle School – Mary Gray
• Carver – Carolyn Martin,
Marilyn Morrison, Sherry Rial
• Church Street – Carolyn Beasley, Terry
Leigh Clayton
, Carrie Riley, Amy Wyatt
• Early Childhood Education Center –
Meredith Craig, Laura Aynsley Farmer,
Dedra Wray
• Fillmore – Carol Sexton
• Joyner – Dana Daugherty,
Carmon Dye, Shannon Edwards
• Lawhon – Tabbie Easter, Keila Glenn,
Amy Johnson, Dana McGinister,
Jalema Tidwell
• Lawndale – Paulette Agnew,
Gethia Burt
• Milam – Tami Doss, Patricia Griffin,
Gloria Williams
• Parkway – Linda Grimmett, Amy
Kingsley, Clint Newsom, Marsha Warren
• Pierce Street – Kaylah Lawrence,
Dana Maharrey, Lealue Triplett
• Rankin – Kim Jenkins, Jodie Thompson,
Traci Wardlaw, Karen Wells
• Thomas Street – Angela Bates,
Brittney Coker, Samantha Cox,
Sharronda Evans, Brittani Gann Jordan,
Christy Jordan, Rasheda Kemp,
Amanda Koonlaba, Kayla Mitchell,
Heather Peeples, Leslie Wenzel
• Tupelo High School – Judy Beard,
April Friar, Julie Henderson,
Christina Jordan, Suzanne McGrath,
Shelly Miller
• Tupelo Middle School – Eileen Bailey,
Sherrie Dickerson, Kay Moore

Chris Kieffer/NEMS Daily Journal

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