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Teachers and classroom excellence honored at celebration

 

 
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Just like their music fills her room, Kami Lunsford's students fill her heart.

 

“Hearing kids make music, especially when it’s their own music, I really can’t explain,” she said. “The joy that comes over me when that happens is probably my favorite.”

 

The Karns music and chorus teacher is Knox County Schools' 2015 Middle School Teacher of the Year.

 

“To be able to represent arts teachers in our community, and for folks in my community that aren’t arts teachers to recognize [the arts], it’s humbling,” she said.

 

Joining Lunsford as one of Knox County's top educators is Lonsdale third grade teacher William Smith.

 

“I love watching the kids, from the first day they come to you, how they come to you, and watching them grow and change throughout the year,” he said.

 

Smith credits that growth to knowing his students on a personal level and adjusting his teaching accordingly.

 

“Every time that little light bulb goes off in their heads and they’re learning something new, it’s just that exciting,” he said. “They’re the reason you’re there. It’s all about the kids.” 

 

Rounding out the group receiving top honors is Gibbs English teacher Jennifer Williams, the 2015 High School Teacher of the Year.

 

“I feel humbled,” she said. “Absolutely one hundred percent humbled.“

 

Drawing inspiration from her mother, Williams prepares her students for life outside of high school.

 

“She was from the Philippines, and she always told me that education is one thing that nobody can take away from you,” Williams said. Now she passes that sentiment on to her students. “I try to have fun, but I try to teach them beyond the classroom.”

 

The trio joined peers from every Knox County school at the annual Teacher of the Year celebration. District leaders recognized nearly 175 educators for their extraordinary work, day in and day out. Colleagues nominated the recipients to recognize their commitment, educational leadership and philosophy of teaching. 

 

From building a strong foundation, to songs of success and preparations for the real world, the Knox County Schools’ Teachers of the Year exemplify the district’s ambitious goal of “Excellence for Every Child”.

 
smith Lundsford williams
William Smith
 Third Grade Teacher
Lonsdale Elementary School
Kami Lunsford
Chorus and General Music Teacher
Karns Middle School
Jennifer Williams
English Teacher
Gibbs High School
 
 
The celebration was sponsored by Comcast, Rusty Wallace Honda and Rusty Wallace Kia, who presented the three district-wide recipients with generous gifts of appreciation. Also recognizing the winners was Kroger. Thanks also to the Partners in Education Advisory Board for their leadership and assistance with the special night.

The Knox County Schools adheres to the Tennessee Department of Education guidelines for selecting Teacher of the Year award recipients. The number of Teacher of the Year recipients from each school is based on the number of faculty at that school. Schools are allowed one recipient for every 20 faculty members. To be eligible for the Teacher of the Year honor, each candidate must be a full-time, certified Pre K-12 teacher who has taught five years or more and spends the majority of the day instructing students. Candidates must also show dedication to teaching and possess a variety of positive personal attributes.
 
 
smith
William Smith
3rd Grade Teacher, Lonsdale Elementary School
 
The Knox County Schools Elementary Teacher of the Year is a teacher who demonstrates curiosity and passion every day and champions the needs of his students and those in the entire school.  From the door of William Smith’s third-grade classroom—above which is a bright “Bienvenidos!”—to each desk within, this teacher ensures that each of the students in the classroom knows he or she is hand-picked to be there and is safe, welcome and respected.  This educator builds a classroom culture that allows mistakes and has a structure to learn from them.  By using small-group differentiated learning in both reading and math, Smith gives the consistency his students need and is able to address their individual needs to great success.  Students in Smith’s classrooms have regularly experienced significant gains in math and reading.  This educator also is a leader for the school, serving as a TAP Mentor and Evaluator, member of the TAP Leadership Team, mentor for interns and Learning Leader for TNCore School Team Training.  He is both a soccer coach…and quite a successful grant writer, having secured enough funding for iPads, books for the school library and educational field trips.
   
Lundsford
Kami Lunsford
Chorus and General Music Teacher, Karns Middle School
 
The Knox County Schools Middle School Teacher of the Year strikes a chord with students and colleagues. Kami Lunsford creates a risk-free environment where students can feel safe to express their creativity, set goals individually and as a group, learn what it means to live and work in a community and respect each other, themselves and their teachers. Each year, more than half of the student body are students of this award-winning teacher, and to this diverse group, Lunsford brings humor, clear expectations, encouragement and respect. Lunsford collaborates with teachers in the school to support their curriculum goals in her instruction. Relating to students is a strength for Lunsford, who freely admits to thinking “like a middle schooler.” This method obviously works, for her choirs consistently receive ratings of Excellent and Superior in competition. Lunsford also is quite active in the community, helping with a bereavement camp for children and summer performance camps and is a featured performer for community organizations. This talented educator is a Lead Teacher and Evaluator, PLC Leader and Facilitator and serves on the school’s Mentoring Team, the district’s Music Department Leadership Team and Curriculum and Instruction Team. 

 
williams
Jennifer Williams
English Teacher, Gibbs High School
 
A teacher who combines passion with high expectations and creativity is the Knox County Schools High School Teacher of the Year. Jennifer Williams’ love of learning was kindled at a very young age, and she has used this academic foundation to establish a personal set of beliefs that includes being a mentor in all aspects of a student’s life; respecting students; exhausting all options when a student experiences difficulty; realizing that learning is a two-way street; and acknowledging both achievement and failure. Williams uses various methods to reach each student individually, methods that help students connect the classroom to the real world. She embraces the difficult language of William Shakespeare and helps students understand it through classroom performances and by creating new Shakespeare characters. Students also develop contemporary ways to express their traditional research, such as through a recipe, puzzle or song. This educator regularly solicits constructive criticism from students as part of her self-evaluation of assignments. Williams is a PLC facilitator, mentor for new teachers, Leadership Team member and department chair. As a Common Core liaison and presenter, she encourages collaboration and higher standards.
 
 
Teacher of the Year Honorees
 
Pre-K through 4th Grade
 
Kitty Menhenick
Rebecca Tipton
Natalie Drafts
Rodney Kiser
Susie Peterson
Mariah Danzey
Tiffany Holmes
Elizabeth Leinart 
Terry Whitehead 
Teresa Lawson 
Jennifer Ellis 
Laura Snapp 
Melissa Williams 
Amy Campbell
Honey Spalvins 
Kimberly Harper 
Jennie Williams 
Christine Bock
Melissa McMurry
Amber Love 
Ella Williams 
Suzanne Binkley 
Myron Sharp 
Sandy Wallen 
Elizabeth Toth
Lisa Walker
Kim Cameron 
Abigail Coffey
Kyli Wooten 
Erin Tharp 
Melissa Bumgardner 
Carrie Arana
Lisa Loftin 
Shanda Loftis
Tommie Branscum
A.L. Lotts Elementary
A.L. Lotts Elementary
Adrian Burnett Elementary
Adrian Burnett Elementary
Amherst Elementary
Amherst Elementary
Ball Camp Elementary
Bearden Elementary
Beaumont Elementary
Belle Morris Elementary
Blue Grass Elementary
Bonny Kate Elementary
Brickey-McCloud Elementary
Brickey-McCloud Elementary
Carter Elementary
Cedar Bluff Elementary
Cedar Bluff Elementary
Cedar Bluff Elementary
Cedar Bluff Elementary
Christenberry Elementary
Christenberry Elementary
Copper Ridge Elementary
Corryton Elementary
Dogwood Elementary
Dogwood Elementary
Dogwood Elementary
East Knox County Elementary
East Knox County Elementary
Fair Garden Family Center
Farragut Intermediate
Farragut Primary
Farragut Primary
Gibbs Elementary
Gibbs Elementary
Green Magnet Academy
Tracy Thomas 
Amy Cox 
Pam Huppman 
Amber Massengill 
Kerry Russ
Dawn Bowers 
Ginger McNeeley
Tammy Roberts 
William Smith 
Myisha Dorsey 
Lindsey Cohn 
Lee Ann Carter 
Jenna Creech 
Jami Welden
Barbara Enloe 
Selena Lawrence 
Steve Davis 
Terry Wright
Shirley James 
Jean Anderson 
Shannon Taylor 
Paula Holland 
Mitzi Burnett 
Angela Childers
Susan Parker
Kara Haas 
Nilda Carrasquillo 
Jennifer Howard 
Stephanie Riffey 
Courtney Bartlett 
Brenda Sage 
Diane Przybyszewski 
Hedy Collins
Wendy Markwood
Halls Elementary
Halls Elementary
Hardin Valley Elementary
Hardin Valley Elementary 
Hardin Valley Elementary
Karns Elementary
Karns Elementary
Karns Elementary
Lonsdale Elementary
Maynard Elementary
Mooreland Heights Elementary
New Hopewell Elementary
Northshore Elementary
Northshore Elementary
Pleasant Ridge Elementary
Pond Gap Elementary
Powell Elementary
Powell Elementary
Ritta Elementary
Ritta Elementary
Rocky Hill Elementary
Sam E. Hill Family Comm.
Sarah Moore Greene Mag. Aca.
Sarah Moore Greene Mag. Aca.
Sarah Moore Greene Mag. Aca.
Sequoyah Elementary
South Knoxville Elementary
Spring Hill Elementary
Sterchi Elementary
Sunnyview Primary
West Haven Elementary
West Hills Elementary
West Hills Elementary 
West View Elementary
 
 
5th Grade through 8th Grade
 
Kayla Canario 
Lolly Ordonez 
Michael Weininger 
Lisa Houston 
Jilynn Parmley 
Sarah Akin 
Leigh Anna McCann
Shawna Wolbert 
Joanna Hood 
Shelley Beckman 
Jerri Ann Brock
Elizabeth Choi
Debby Frieling
Debra Holly 
Nicole Thorley 
Jessica Barner 
Kelly Clemmer 
Jennifer Cochran 
Ani Roma
Sabrina Boling 
Annie Henry 
Karen Pallesen
Michael Sowards
Jenifer Feagins 
Conni Durfee
Bearden Middle
Bearden Middle
Bearden Middle
Blue Grass Elementary 
Brickey-McCloud Elementary
Carter Middle
Carter Middle
Cedar Bluff Middle
Chilhowee Intermediate
Farragut Middle
Farragut Middle
Farragut Middle
Farragut Middle
Farragut Intermediate
Farragut Intermediate
Fountain City Elementary
Gap Creek Elementary
Gresham Middle
Gresham Middle
Halls Middle
Holston Middle
Holston Middle
Holston Middle
Inskip Elementary
Karns Elementary
Karyn Lee
Kami Lunsford
Rhonda Keas 
Brooke Coffin 
Chris Daniels 
Cheryl Robertson
Michelle Staal
Diana Noel 
Beth Carter 
Sarah Daniel
Janet Roach
Mary McDonough 
Louise Negus
Rhoshawnda Turner 
Justin McConnell 
Virginia McGaha
Bryan Schultz
Walter Skeen 
Kamau Kenyatta 
Megan Maples
Mary Ann Hunley 
Terri Kaiser
Laura Mann
Luke Askins 
Dennis Groenke
Karns Middle
Karns Middle
Karns Middle
Mount Olive Elementary
Northwest Middle
Northwest Middle
Northwest Middle
Norwood Elementary
Powell Middle
Powell Middle
Powell Middle
Ridgedale School
Ridgedale School
Shannondale Elementary
South-Doyle Middle
South-Doyle Middle
South-Doyle Middle
Spring Hill Elementary
Vine Middle
Vine Middle
West Valley Middle
West Valley Middle
West Valley Middle
Whittle Springs Middle
Whittle Springs Middle
 
 
9th Grade through 12th Grade
 
Douglas Iglehart 
Melissa Wilkinson 
Phillip Harris
Susan Bothman 
Rebecca Nutter
Julie Rowe
Lori Thumler
Cara Vaughn
Beth Haun 
Don Huddleston
Gregory Jones
John Alexander 
Phyllis Ball
Cindy Blanchard
Valeria McKinley
Laura Webb 
Florence Fillers 
Ben Lyle
Allison Maldonado
Clare Brimer
Michelle Brossett
Erin Brown 
Jason Harbison
Kimberly Kennard
Jeremy Sutton
Amanda Davidson 
Jeffrey Jones
Leigha McCall
Jennifer Williams

Austin-East Magnet High
Austin-East Magnet High
Austin-East Magnet High
Bearden High
Bearden High
Bearden High
Bearden High
Bearden High
Carter High
Carter High
Carter High
Central High
Central High
Central High
Central High
Career Magnet Academy
Farragut High
Farragut High
Farragut High
Farragut High
Farragut High
Fulton High
Fulton High
Fulton High
Fulton High
Gibbs High
Gibbs High
Gibbs High
Gibbs High
Sarah Bateman 
Hilary Brooks 
Dorothy Lee 
Tim Lee
Gloria Price
John Tilson
Vivian West
Rhonda Moore-Kerr 
Cynthia Rhoden 
William Goldman
Kelly Hicks
John O’Donnell
Chad Turner
Brad Crattie 
Joe Foy
Jannice Clark 
Susan Martin 
Jim Porter
Lindsay Kennedy
Erika Neely
Paulette Clevenger 
Melissa M. Ballenger
Julianne Bowman
Laura McCall
Rose Sexton
Byron Davis 
Lisa Nelson
Arielle Street
Kathleen Colbert
Halls High
Halls High
Hardin Valley Academy
Hardin Valley Academy
Hardin Valley Academy
Hardin Valley Academy
Hardin Valley Academy
Knoxille Adaptive Ed. Center
Karns High
Karns High
Karns High
Karns High
Karns High
L & N STEM Academy
L & N STEM Academy
Dr. Paul L. Kelley Vol. Aca.
Powell High
Powell High
Powell High
Powell High
Richard Yoakley Transition
South-Doyle High
South-Doyle High
South-Doyle High
South-Doyle High
West High
West High
West High
West High