March 26, 2018
Teachers of the Month for March and Employee of the Month for February were honored at the Wakulla County School Board Meeting on March 26, 2018.
Teachers Amber Allen and Lesley Jamison plus employee Allison Barrett were selected by their peers to be recognized for their positive impact on Wakulla County students, staff, and community.
Crawfordville Elementary chose Amber Allen as their Teacher of the Month for March. Educated in Wakulla County, Allen attended Crawfordville Elementary, Wakulla Middle, Riversprings Middle, and graduated from Wakulla High School.
She went on to earn her AA (Associate of Arts) degree at Tallahassee Community College and a bachelor’s degree from Flagler College.
Allen worked as a classroom paraprofessional at Wakulla Pre-K for one year and as an EBD (Emotional Behavior Disorder) paraprofessional at Riversprings Middle School for four years.
She then landed her self-proclaimed “dream job” at CES, the same elementary school she attended. After three years as a 3rd grade teacher, she is now in her first year as a 4th grade teacher.
“The most enjoyable thing about my job is knowing that 23 precious sponges are depending on me to not only teach them but also to protect them, make them laugh, encourage them and support them when they fail, and positively impact their educational career,” says Allen.
She is a great believer in giving respect to be respected. “I was at a local park for a birthday party and there was a young man not making ‘good choices’ as we teachers say. He was being very destructive, loud, and disrespectful. Then I heard, ‘Hey, Mrs. Allen, remember me?’ Of course I did, and I spoke to him with respect and care. He suddenly had a different rapport and carried himself in a respectful manner.”
Allen adds, “This meant the world to me because even though years had passed, this troubled boy who wanted to hate the world changed when he saw me and felt loved and respected, just like he did when we were in the classroom. When we give respect, we earn respect.”
CES Principal Belinda McElroy agrees. “I appreciate Mrs. Allen’s kind and warm heart and her great sense of humor. She goes above and beyond to plan fun, challenging and engaging lessons for her students.”
In addition, says McElroy, “She is 100% behind any school activity. As chairperson of the School Advisory Council Parent Involvement Committee, she does a great job of planning fun and educationally relevant events at our school to help parents feel connected. And she is so humble that she will try to find someone else to give credit to when she does something outstanding.”
“I appreciate all that Mrs. Allen does for her students and for our school,” adds McElroy.
Riversprings Middle School chose Lesley Jamison as their March Teacher of the Month. She is in her fourth year of teaching 7th grade English/Language Arts. After teaching at Wakulla Middle for three years, she is now in her first year at Riversprings Middle.
The Kentucky native attended the University of Kentucky and Eastern Kentucky University to earn a bachelor’s degree in English Education.
“When I first moved to Florida from Kentucky, I was drawn to Wakulla County because of the highly acclaimed schools as well as the small town feel it offered that reminded me so much of home.”
Adds Jamison, “This job combines two of my favorite things: working with young people and English. I really love it when I can add to a lesson by bringing in texts that the students enjoy. I try every way possible to heighten student interest in the classroom, even using the rap artist Eminem to introduce poetry.”
In addition to teaching, Jamison enjoys being involved in extra-curricular activities at RMS such as co-coaching cheerleading and track to show students she wants to inspire them in different school situations outside of the classroom.
She also enjoys the relationships she has built with her colleagues. “This year, I was introduced to the RMS family with teacher Kelly Dykes showing up at my door this summer saying, ‘You don’t know me, but get in the van!’ She took me to AVID (Advancement via Individual Determination) training and I had never met any of the RMS teachers. It only took one van ride to already feel at home.”
RMS Principal Michele Yeomans adds, “In only her first year here at Riversprings, she immediately became a teacher-leader to two new 7th grade English/Language Arts teachers. At AVID training, she quickly became an essential part of the bear family. She is an amazing teacher and is quick to lend a hand wherever she is needed.”
Allison Barrett was chosen by the District Office staff to be the February Employee of the Month. She was awarded at the March 26 School Board Meeting due to a February conflict.
After graduating from Tallahassee Community College with an AA degree, she went on to earn a bachelor’s degree from Flagler College in Accounting. Now she uses her analytical skills as the Wakulla MIS FTE (Management Information Systems Full-time Equivalent) Data Operator. She works with everything from school schedules to district-wide data analysis.
This is her second year as the MIS FTE Data Operator. FTE is a major part of school funding, so every piece of data is important. Barrett earned respect in her prior three years working with Sue Anderson, Director of Special Programs and Assessment. She honed her data skills working with federal programs such as Title I, plus state and national testing.
“I love working with numbers and data, which is what I do on a daily basis in this job. Solving problems is fun for me. Moving into this new position working with FTE has been challenging, but I love learning new things. And the group of people I work with, still including Sue Anderson, is awesome,” Barrett says.
Another reason Barrett loves working in the Wakulla school system is that she can still be involved with her children after being a stay at home mom. She notes, “My son is a student at Wakulla Pre-K, so it is extra special that I get to participate in school events like ‘Trunk or Treat’ at Halloween for the little ones. Our office participated this year by decorating and setting up a trunk to pass out candy. I love working for a school district that encourages me to be involved with my kids’ events.”
Observes Barrett’s supervisor Chief Academic Officer Sunny Chancy, “Allison is a blessing for this district. She walked into a position she knew would be hard. After a short learning curve, she knows FTE, can run data reports, has earned Focus data system certification, and serves as liaison between PAEC (Panhandle Area Education Consortium) data systems and Wakulla County School District. She also trains new data entry staff.”
Chancy adds, “Her personality does not allow her to quit when faced with a complicated situation or a problem where there is seemingly no solution. She is unimpeded by traditional thought processes and is considered the ‘smart one’ within our team.”
“We are lucky to have Allison Barrett as a co-worker, and even luckier to have her as a positive, involved parent in our school system.”
Notes Superintendent Bobby Pearce, “All three of these employees are applauded for going above and beyond in their jobs. Duly noted is that they all make positive connections with their colleagues and with the students they work with. They are great examples of adding heart to their skills.”