Chamber names teachers of the year

Published 1:15 am Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Candy Parker

The Andalusia Area Chamber of Commerce will honor Jenifer Earnest, Candy Parker, and Perry Dillard as its teachers of the year during its annual banquet Thursday night.


Earnest teaches fourth-grade Andalusia Elementary and said she loves working with fourth graders because they are old enough to have developed their personalities and generally have delightful senses of humor.

Jenifer Earnest

Earnest has incorporated technology into her curriculum. This year, her students are using iPods and the Google earth app to go on a virtual field trip of the state capitol. She also uses the classroom iPad to have students solve math problems on the board.

She said she likes to use manipulatives to teach math concepts.

“We use large bulletin board paper and counting cubes to work new concepts out concretely before we work problems on paper,” she said. “This helps the students to visualize what we later do more abstractly with the algorithms.”

This gives students a deeper understanding of math concepts, she said.

She earned a B.S. and M.S. in elementary education from Troy University. She serves as the fourth grade representative for the math vertical team in Andalusia City Schools, and is the technology representative for fourth grade at AES. She also is on the positive behavior supports team at AES.

She is the praise and worship leader at Andalusia Bible Church.

She received letters of support from co-worker Jessica Tucker; her pastor, Timothy Morgan; and AES principal Patty Taylor.



Parker is the middle school teacher of the year.

She has incorporated a number of creative exercises into her language arts curriculum at AMS.

Students begin the year by completing a 33-page autobiography, a project that takes nine to 10 weeks.

“Students take a great deal of pride in this work and enjoy sharing them with their classmates,” she said. “Parents treasure the completed book because it is a true picture of their children’s thoughts at this age. The activity allows me to pinpoint students’ needs in writing as well as discover their interests and diversity. As a result, I am able to create relevant lessons that connect students’ learning with their world.

She also has students develop and record “television” commercials and create a slideshow that solicits viewers to visit or move to Andalusia.

“Students learn the value of living in a small town and begin to realize the many opportunities they have here,” she said.

Her students also write letters to active duty soldiers and participate in writing contests.

Parker has taught language arts at AMS since 2009, and previously taught at East Three Notch School and Owens Cross Roads Middle School in Madison County. She earned a B.S. and M.S. in elementary education from Troy University.

At AMS, she serves on the continuous improvement plan committee; language arts vertical team; response to instruction/problem solving team; chairperson for AdvancEd/SACS accreditation team and the emergency response team. She served as an AHS soccer coach; created a peer helpers group to help aid students in adjusting to middle school life; and is a bus driver for AMS cheerleaders and the AHS band.

She is a member of First Baptist Church, Little Lambs Consignment Sale Council, Andalusia Junior Woman’s Club, and has coached swimming and soccer in the city’s youth sports programs.

She received letters of support from fellow teachers Barbara Peak and Amy Bryan; and AMS principal Victoria Anderson.



Dillard is the high school teacher of the year.

Perry Dillard

He is a graduate of Andalusia High School who went on to earn an undergraduate degree at Faulkner University, and a masters from Troy University. He teaches world history to ninth graders, and coaches AHS tennis. He previously has been an AHS assistant football coach. He also is a Key Club adviser.

“Every day I try to make history come alive for my students,” he said. “One example of how I make history real for students and involve our community is through a field trip I call, ‘A Walk to Remember.’ With the help of the mural committee and the Covington County Historical Society, I take AHS freshmen on a walking tour of the Three Notch Museum and murals that adorn the buildings in Andalusia. At each stop I have speakers explain the local history to our students.”

Dillard said he was influenced by his teachers at AHS to pursue a career in education.

He previously taught at Alabama Christian Academy, where he coached middle school football, and at Pleasant Home High School before coach Tom Causey hired him to return to his alma mater.

“Three years ago, I got out of football and started working with youth at the (First United) Methodist Church,” he said.

He also is pursing a second masters degree in administration and educational leadership, and has a long-term goal of becoming a principal.

“I see the difference that Dr. Shakespeare makes and the impact he makes on our community,” Dillard said. “The more that you do you, the more you want to expand.”

His wife, Stephanie, serves as the child nutrition director for the city school system.

He received letters of support from AHS principal Dr. Daniel Shakespeare, Rep. Mike Jones Jr. and Charlotte Spurlin.