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2017 High School Teacher of Excellence Award Recipients

Tracy WeaverTracy Lynn Weaver, Mountain View High School, Mesa, AZ
Arizona English Teachers Association (AETA)
“In addition to her tireless advocacy for students outside the classroom, Tracy's expertise and experience in the classroom is equally impressive... Her interest in teen literacy spearheaded a renewed focus on independent reading. With Tracy's urging and guidance, our 10th grade team instituted yearlong independent reading in addition to our regular curriculum. Our librarian is amazed as books fly off the shelves. Tracy's role within our department has and continues to be a vital source of direction and ideas.” —Cynthia Bassani, English Department

Theron HopkinsTheron Hopkins, Inspire School of Arts and Sciences, Chico, CA
California Association of Teachers of English (CATE)
“Theron’s lessons are taught with passion, patience, consistency, and respect—with a delivery that perfectly balances seriousness and fun. All of these ‘ingredients’ make Theron the educator whose students enjoy the process of learning. Theron truly cares about the success of each and every one of his students; his students pride themselves on individual accountability for their success. Reading and writing are important to Theron; his students are inspired by his passion, and he is so important to his students and their aspirations.” —Charm K. Simlick, Business Teacher, Advisor, Future Business Leaders of America

Shirley RutterShirley A. Rutter, Weeki Wachee High School, Weeki Wachee, FL
Florida Council of Teachers of English (FCTE)
“When I think of Shirley, these characteristics come to mind: compassion, courage, and creativity... she persists because she is certain that she can make a positive difference in the life of every student she teaches... She is willing to speak up when things do not look right, when circumstances are awkward, or when no one else will say what needs to be said... Shirley acts when she recognizes good ideas that offer great potential for her students.” —Carolyn D. “Carrie” Perry, FCTE President, Prew Academy ELA Instructor

Amber SimmonsAmber M. Simmons, Brookwood High School, Snellville, GA
Georgia Council of Teachers of English (GCTE)
“While Dr. Simmons works very hard at building a relationship with her students through the study of literature and language, she works equally as hard at having students build stronger relationships with their families and/or other adults who care about them. This is something that many teachers do not think to do. However, she achieves this through the use of family dialogue journals.” —William Bo Ford, Jr., Principal


Genevieve ShermanGenevieve Sherman, Zion-Benton Township High School, Zion, IL
Illinois Association of Teachers of English (IATE)
“She leads students not only in the classroom, but outside of it, providing students with a model for excellence by holding herself and her students to the highest standards. Students aren’t just receiving knowledge from Ms. Sherman, they are actively engaged in constructing their learning.” —Michael Blades, Division Chair for English, ELL, VPA


Jodie ScalesJodie K. Scales, Wapahani High School, Selma, IN
Indiana Council of Teachers of English
“Outside the school day Mrs. Scales also works very hard to help her students achieve. One such example of her work ethic and commitment to her students is the after school book club that she began while at the middle school and her high school book clubs to help her students develop their literacy skills in ways that meet their personal interests.” —Bryan Rausch, Superintendent


Geryl LobertGeryl Lobert, Chippewa Hills High School, Remus, MI
Michigan Council of Teachers of English (MCTE)
“Geryl is that rare teacher with the perfect balance of fun, learning, respect and discipline within her class and every relationship she develops. She genuinely values what each student brings to her class and their future potential. Even more importantly, she gets students to believe that they have value and can contribute to society.” —Michelle M. Newman, Principal


Caitlin ChillerCaitlin Chiller, Whitehall School District, Whitehall, MT
Montana Association of Teachers of the English Language Arts (MATELA)
“Caitlin engages her students both in her class and outside, making connections through multiple school activities that allow her to tie literature and writing to their interests. She diversifies her lessons to include their strengths and limitations. Moreover, she encourages students to be self-aware and proactive in their education and in their future.” —Brenda Lamb, former colleague at Simms School, current teacher Roberts High School, Salem, Oregon

Deborah WardDeborah Ward, Burke High School, Omaha, NE
Nebraska English Language Arts Council
“Whenever I exit Ms. Ward’s room, I am reminded that learning should be fun. And although Ms. Ward’s students have a lot of fun, they are also exposed to a rigorous, relevant, and purposeful English curriculum that prepares them for life beyond Burke High School.” —Shelley Erikson, English Supervisor

Lou VenturaLou Ventura, Olean High School, Olean, NY
New York State English Council (NYSEC)
“Over the years he has earned the respect of staff and students alike for his enthusiastic yet firm, no-nonsense approach to education. He may be considered a “tough” teacher by students at the on-set of the school year, but they quickly realize that he has their best interests at heart and possesses a strong desire for them to become competent, self-sufficient individuals as they begin their college or working careers.” —Mr. Jeffrey Andreano, Principal

Lena MooreLena Moore, Sheridan High School, Thornville, OH
Ohio Council of Teachers of English Language Arts (OCTELA)
“She is an inspiring teacher who demonstrates her love of literature and writing through her daily lessons and interactions with students and staff. She is a driven and forward thinking member of our high school staff, all while managing a complicated schedule between courses, membership, extra-curricular activities, and family responsibilities.” —Angie Gussler, Director of Curriculum and Instruction, Northern Local School District


Jonathan DeBorJonathan P. DeBor, The Neighborhood Academy, Pittsburgh, PA
Pennsylvania Council for Teachers of English Language Arts (PCTELA)
“His bookshelves are filled with novels and young adult books that he has read himself and that he encourages his students to read based on their own interests. He takes the time to get to know his students and then based on his knowledge of them, he makes recommendations. Jonathan not only teaches how to interpret texts, but wants to instill a love of reading in his students that they will take with them well beyond their years as a student.” —Ravit Shpiez, Spanish Teacher, Arts Connection Director

Samantha PeilSamantha M. Peil, Deubrook Area School District, White, SD
South Dakota Council of Teachers of English (SDCTE)
“Ultimately, the most important thing Ms. Peil taught me was to consider the students above all else. When students plagiarized, Ms. Peil thought of, not how to “punish” students, but how to help them understand plagiarism and improve their documentation so they could succeed in the future.”
—Leah Alsaker, student teacher, Deubrook High School


Rhonda SheltonRhonda Shelton, Lewisville High School, Lewisville, TX
North Texas Council of Teachers of English Language Arts (NTCTELA)
“She cares for each of her students, and gets to know each one’s background, motivations, and challenges. She tailors her interactions with students according to their needs, and she supports them by building their self-esteem and confidence while facing their challenges in order to reach a potential that many initially fail to see for themselves. This holds true for Rhonda’s interaction with her fellow teachers as well.” —Amber Counts, AP English Teacher

Victoria Ingroff Garren, Thomas Jefferson High School, Richmond, VA
Virginia Association of Teachers of English (VATE)
“Perhaps the only thing that surpasses Victoria’s ability to engage students is her ability to connect with students. In her classroom, students feel loved and supported. In times of need, they know Victoria is a teacher in which they can confide and seek guidance. Though she pushes her students through rigorous lessons and challenging topics, she coaches them along the way and shows them she cares about the whole student.” —Jeanne Callahan, MAT English Teacher

NCTE Annual ConventionThe award presentation will be held at the Secondary Section Luncheon on Saturday, November 18 during the NCTE Annual Convention in St. Louis, Missouri.




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