JEFFERSON-Ashe County Schools put its best on display last week.
The district named Jodi Grubb its 2016/17 Oddie Cox Teacher of the Year and Kathy Shepherd its Teacher Assistant of the Year. The winners were selected by a panel of district and community leaders with a mandate to highlight teachers and assistants that go above and beyond.
Grubb, an exceptional children’s teacher at Ashe County Middle School, was surprised with her Teacher of the Year honor after returning from Ashe County High School with her students – she was helping to prepare them for the district’s Special Olympics scheduled for May 3.
During her interview Grubb said , “We do not assume inability in our students – we assume they all can learn. Every child learns differently and you must know your individual kids to be an effective teacher,” and Grubb lives by the motto “We all are more alike than we are different.”
Grubb’s assistant Ann Combs said Grubb one of the most kind hearted, loving people she knows and called her charisma contagious while her colleague Holly McClure called Grubb among the most selfless teachers she’s ever worked with.
“She goes above and beyond to help her students find their voice and excel to their fullest potential,” McClure said.
And Alecia Giles, another ACMS exceptional children’s teacher, said Grubb is among the teachers who “just get it.”
“They instinctively connect with kids in a way that goes beyond the ordinary,” Giles said. “Jodi Grubb is that teacher who intentionally seeks to encourage and strengthen the hearts of her students. Though many people focus on someone’s disability or inability, Jodi sees only their possibility.”
Grubb began her career in Shelby and has been employed with Ashe County Schools as an exceptional children’s teacher since joining the staff at Northwest Ashe High School in 1998. She earned her Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill as a Teaching Fellow and completed her Master’s Degree in Special Education at UNC Charlotte.
She is currently in the final stages of completing a doctoral program and expects to finish this spring. Dustin Farmer, principal of Ashe County Middle School said, “Words cannot express what Mrs. Grubb means to ACMS. What she accomplishes with students in her classroom is phenomenal and cannot be measured by a standardized test. She is genuine in everything she does and is a huge advocate for the exceptional children’s population. She thinks outside the box in her classroom and is never satisfied, always researching new ways to increase student learning. As great as he is in the classroom, she is an even better person. We are so proud of Mrs. Grubb and her accomplishments. We support her as she moves on to the regional and hopefully, state level.”
The Ashe County Schools Teacher of the Year is chosen from among each school’s Teacher of the Year. Other honorees include Ashe County High School biology teacher Alex Rollins, Blue Ridge Elementary 3rd grade teacher Katina Wilcox, Mountain View Elementary School 3rd grade teacher Lori Hensley and Westwood Elementary School 3rd grade teacher Monica Jane “Janie” Riffle.
For more than 50 years the nation has honored teachers with the National Teacher of the Year Program. The National Teacher of the Year Program, sponsored by the Voya Financial, Inc., is a project of the Council of Chief State School Officers.
Since 1970, North Carolina has participated in this program recognizing outstanding teachers. The Teacher of the Year program provides an opportunity to honor and recognize exemplary teachers in North Carolina and to call attention to the importance of the teaching profession.
Grubb will compete with teachers in the Northwest Region for the title of Region 7 Teacher of the Year this fall.
Shepherd earns TA of the Year
District officials, including Superintendent of Ashe County Schools Todd Holden, have long said Teacher Assistants play an essential role in helping the district’s students get their education off to a strong start.
On April 27, the district named Blue Ridge Elementary’s Kathy Shepherd, a Kindergarten assistant, its 2016/17 Teacher Assistant of the Year.
“It is a joy to have Kathy Shepherd on staff,” Blue Ridge Elementary Principal Callie Grubb said. “Mrs. Shepherd provides strong instructional support to the students in her classroom. She is positive with all her interactions and cares very much about the students and staff of Blue Ridge Elementary.”
Shepherd was selected by a team of school system personnel and community leaders.
According to a release issued by Ashe County Schools, Teacher assistants play a vital role in the education of students and said it values the dedication and service each provides its schools.
“These paraprofessionals provide instructional support and clerical assistance for the classroom teacher daily,” according to the release. “They are constantly in motion from the time they arrive until they leave.”
The district’s 29 teacher assistants started the year on uneven ground thanks to a legislative fight that delayed passage of the state’s budget by more than two months. There was some question about the state’s commitment to teacher assistants, but Holden said he was relieved in September when the state’s budget was approved.
“Those assistants, they’re vital, absolutely vital to what happens in classrooms,” Holden said in September. “And it’s not just about the fact that they help teachers manage kids. They’re a big help in terms of instruction. Teachers and students are better off with those assistants in the classroom.”
Teacher assistants must have been employed by the district for a minimum of three years to be considered for the award and must be team players and show a willingness to be flexible and understanding. They must also provide a source of positive and enthusiastic energy in the classroom and compassion towards their students.
Other teacher assistants honored this year include Ashe County High School’s Dwayne Farmer, Ashe County Middle School’s Ann Combs, Mountain View Elementary’s Becky Rose and Westwood Elementary’s Natasha Goodman.
Reach Adam Orr at 336-489-3058 or Twitter.com/AdamROrr.