Excellent teachers earn honors, cash from AEE

By Chris Kieffer/NEMS Daily Journal

TUPELO – Nineteen Tupelo educators were honored on Monday for being high-performing teachers or administrators.
They were also given $1,000 scholarships.
The Association for Excellence in Education presented its first Achieving Excellence in Education awards during the Tupelo Public School District’s annual end-of-the-year banquet at the Tupelo High School Performing Arts Center. Teachers applied for the awards, which were selected by a committee that scored applicants based on a detailed rubric. They are designed to provide an added incentive for the district’s best teachers and administrators.
“Teachers have one of the most difficult, most important jobs in the world,” said AEE President Brent Waldrop. “We want to reward them for their hard-earned performance.”
The application process included a resume, explanation of community involvement in the classroom, an essay and a DVD of the teacher in action. AEE had raised money to award 25 scholarships, but only 19 teachers applied, Waldrop said, noting that each of them received the award.
Because it was the first year, Waldrop said, teachers did not have as much time to apply. He said they hope to expand the award next year.
“We were trying to make an impact really fast,” he said. “From the input we’ve gotten, there is a big push for it next year from the teachers.”
AEE is an organization designed to raise private money to boost the public school district.
The money is a personal bonus, and teachers are free to use it however they wish.
“Since we’ve gotten in on the floor level, this is a big achievement,” said Thomas Street teacher Connie Buse.
Several teachers said they would still use the money for educational purchases. Thomas Street’s Tritina Siddell plans to buy more supplies and hands-on material, such as applications for her SmartBoard and extra games and centers. Tupelo Middle School Principal Kristy Luse said she will put her prize into the school’s Positive Behavior Supports program, which awards students for good behavior.
“It takes a lot of time, but it helps you stop and think what you are doing and why you are doing it,” Tupelo High School’s Julie Worth said of the application process.
chris.kieffer@journalinc.com