Chamber to honor student, teachers

Published 12:01 am Thursday, January 13, 2011

Three teachers and a student will be among those honored at Tuesday night’s 88th annual Andalusia Area Chamber of Commerce banquet.

Each year, schools throughout the county nominate students and teachers for consideration as student and teacher of the year. This year, the Chamber will honor Grace Spears, Jessica Tucker, Kristi Powell and Lomax Taylor Andrews.

Grace Spears

Andalusia High School senior Grace Spears is the Andalusia Area Chamber of Commerce’s student of the year.

Grace is ranked first in her class. She is a peer helper and a member of the Usher Club, National Honor Society, Literary Club and is copy editor for the Memolusia.

“Grace is one of the most gifted students I have ever had the pleasure to supervise,” wrote AHS principal Daniel Shakespeare in his recommendation of her. “Academically, Grace has worked consistently and diligently to maintain the top rank, No. 1, of the 2011 Senior Class. She will be graduated summa cum laude in May.”

In another letter supporting her nomination for this award, Richard Jones wrote of Grace, “She has been most unselfish, too, in sharing her abilities by participating in organizations and activities which help and promote others, her school, her church and her community … I can think of no one who is more deserving of your most prestigious award.”

Grace previously has served as a HOBY delegate, attended the University of Alabama Capstone Leadership Academy, the Harding Leadership Seminar, and is a National Merit Scholar semi-finalist.

She is a member of the Southside Baptist Church and has volunteered her time to Meredith’s Miracles, Relay for Life, and Andalusia Regional Hospital.

Grace plans to attend the University of Alabama, where she will pursue majors in political science and Arabic. Her long-term goal is a career in international law.

Jessica Tucker

Andalusia Elementary School’s Jessica Tucker is the elementary teacher of the year.

Tucker teaches fifth grade math, social studies and English. She has seven years experience as a teacher and spent five of those in her current position.

She serves as a grade level chair for fifth grade, is a member of the Positive Behavior Support Team, is the school Web site designer, and serves on both the technology and textbook committees.

She was recommended for the award by her principal, Patty Taylor, a former co-worker, Deb Hughes, and by Mark Ingram.

Taylor wrote, “She has improved our school b y writing grants for laptops, screens, listening centers and planners for fifth grade students.”

Hughes praised her teaching skills.

“I was continually impressed by Jessica’s creativity, openness and approachability,” Hughes wrote. “She consistently maintains a positive relationship with parents and fosters close, supportive school-to-home connections through weekly newsletters, phone calls to update parents about students’ needs, and a welcoming ‘open door’ policy that encourages classroom visits.”

“Her rapport with children is natural and instinctive and she always expects the best of her students, as well as herself,” Hughes said.

At present, she is pursuing a master’s degree in elementary education from Troy University. She is active in First Baptist Church, where she works with the youth group and sings in the choir.

Kristi Powell

Pleasant Home’s Kristi G. Powell is the middle school teacher of the year.

Powell teaches sixth grade spelling, math and science. She is in her 19th year as an educator and previously taught at Red Level.

At Pleasant Home, she is a member of the Classroom Improvement Plan Leadership Team; is school administrator for Renaissance Learning and Kids College software programs; is the lead science teacher for AMSTI; is the elementary science lab coordinator; sponsors the elementary math tournament and the classroom spelling bee. She is the school’s elementary awards program coordinator and is the scorekeeper for the junior high and varsity basketball teams.

She was nominated by her principal, Rodney Nichols, fellow teacher Charlotte Holley, and Carolina Baptist Church pastor Dr. Matt Brady.

“Kristi has a wonderful rapport with people of all ages, especially children,” Nichols wrote. “Her ability to connect with her students and her talent at teaching simple concepts, as well as more advance topics, are both truly superior.”

Brady wrote as her minister and as a parent of a former student.

“I have found in Kristi strong ethical values both inside the classroom and out,” Brady wrote. “Speaking personally as a parent whose child was in Mrs. Powell’s class, the sincere efforts to teach and for the children to learn is of the utmost importance. My wife and I truly count Mrs. Powell to have been one of the most effective and attentive teachers our child has studied under.”

At Carolina Baptist, she has worked as a Sunday School teacher, VBS director and teacher, nursery director, AWANA secretary, church clerk and is a member of the adult choir.

Lomax Taylor Andrews

Straughn High School’s Lomax Taylor Andrews is this year’s secondary teacher of the year.

At SHS, Andrews teaches ninth through 12th grade math classes. He also is an assistant football coach at SMS, is the eighth grade boys basketball coach and boys varsity basketball coach at SHS. He previously taught in the Dale and Henry County systems.

He was nominated by his principal, Shannon Driver, assistant principal John Evers, and a longtime friend, Richard Keith.

“Mr. Andrews is an excellent math teacher,” Driver wrote. “He is able to teach math in a way that students both enjoy and understand. He sets very high standards and is dedicated to helping students reach their full potential.”

Driver said Andrews uses his varied life experiences to help those around him.

He is very calm and reassuring in stressful situations and he knows how to analyze problems and devise strategies to solve them.”

Keith wrote that he had known Andrews since the early 1980s, when he worked as a computer technician for the City of Dothan.

“I knew of his desires of working with young people as he helped by volunteering as coach for the City of Ozark, Enterprise Junior College and Wallace Community College,” Keith said. “It was through these experiences and his love for mathematics that brought him to the point that he gave up his career in working with computers and returned to Troy University to earn a master’s in teaching and mathematics.”