By Riley Manning
TUPELO – Verona Elementary School Principal Temeka Shannon was recognized recently by the U.S. Department of the Secretary of Defense for going above and beyond in her support of the U.S. military.
Shannon has made accommodations for her second-grade teacher, Martisa Braylock, to miss the start of the school year in order to travel to San Antonio for nine weeks to achieve the rank of first lieutenant in the Army Reserves.
Last year was Braylock’s first as a full-fledged teacher, having spent four years in the reserves and another 14 on active duty.
“[Shannon] has just done such a great job of being there and being supportive,” Braylock said. “It’s a lot of work to fill in for.”
Lt. Col. Gregory Clark, commander of the 7242nd medical support unit, presented Shannon with the award at last week’s Lee County School Board meeting.
“It was a pleasure to make the trip to present this award,” Clark said. “Employers like her are what allows us to do our job in the Reserve.”
Shannon said she was honored to receive the distinction, and didn’t mind working around Braylock’s schedule. The principal said Braylock wasn’t the first service member she’d had under her employ, but Braylock’s role as a teacher was a difficult one to cover for.
“She must be replaced with a certified teacher, comparable in skill, but luckily we’ve already secured a retired teacher to hold us over until she gets back,” Shannon said. “It’s definitely worth the effort. Students see her actions as a role model. Plus, parents and the community respect someone who gives back.”