Each day, educators in the Dyer County School System go the extra mile to inspire local students to reach their utmost potential.
Of those teachers, only a handful earn the honor of being named Teacher of the Year by their peers. It is a privilege bestowed upon the best of the best, an honor much sweeter because it comes from those who understand the business, the pressures and the joys of teaching.
In the 2012-2013 academic year, nine educators earned Teacher of the Year designation from their peers in the Dyer County School System. Of those, Britni Singleteary of Fifth Consolidated Elementary School, Betty Lou Doyle Hicks of Northview Middle School and Wendi Davis Roberson of Dyer County High School each went on to represent their system at the district level.
In 2005, Singleteary earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Human Learning K-8 from the University of Tennessee at Martin. She began her career in education as a kindergarten teacher at Dresden Elementary School in the fall of 2005. Her service to students in the West Tennessee area has ranged from rising kindergarteners to seventh-graders, but her heart remains in elementary education.
"I took a year off during the 2006-2007 school year and did a lot of substitute teaching in the Weakley County School System," said Singleteary in her Teacher of the Year application. "At that time, I wasn't sure if my love for education and children matched the reality found in the classroom. After substituting at many different grade levels that year, I realized that I had indeed found my true calling in life. However, it wasn't in a kindergarten classroom."
In 2007, Singleteary went back to Dresden Elementary. This time, she reported to a third-grade classroom. She taught third grade at Dresden until 2010, also serving as an educator in the school's summer enrichment program and as the leader of an after-school science club for third- and fourth-graders.
"I was sure that I would never teach anything else; my heart belonged to elementary education," said Singleteary.
When she married her husband and relocated to Dyer County, Singleteary was thrilled to learn she had received a job in the Dyer County School System. She began by teaching seventh-grade language arts at Three Oaks Middle School and serving as a sponsor to Student Council.
"I enjoyed my time teaching there because it was new and challenging," said Singleteary. "But I constantly felt that there was something missing. It was my love for elementary education and the passion I have for everything that goes along with the elementary level."
Singleteary was granted her request to transfer to Fifth Consolidated Elementary School in 2011, where she returned to the third-grade classroom.
Throughout her career, she has also led her peers as a representative to the West Tennessee Study Council and as chair of DES' school-wide Fall Fest. She led the way in technology professional development and in the purchase of white boards for the classroom. She recently provided grade-level training sessions for some of her colleagues on the use of Discovery Education and new projectors used in the classroom.
She currently serves on the FCES Leadership Committee, Parent Involvement Committee and as 504 Coordinator. She has also served on Fifth's RTI team, which monitored the progress of the school's tier groups, and has always been an active member of the Parent Teacher Organization.
Singleteary's service extends into the community, where she is an active member of the Bogota Church of Christ, a member of the Dyer County Fair Board, and a volunteer firefighter at the Bogota Fire Department. She has also remained active in the Greenfield Church of Christ, serves as a volunteer for the Bogota Community Center and helped save the Bogota Post Office through a series of town hall meetings, petitions and questionnaires.
A member of the Farm Bureau Women's Committee and Dyer County Young Farmers and Ranchers, Singleteary attends Farm Bureau monthly board meetings and serves on the committee responsible for Ag Day.
She holds a Bachelor of Science in early childhood education from the University of Tennessee at Martin and a master's degree in early childhood education from Nova Southeastern University. She has continued her education with graduate credits throughout her career.
Hicks began her career in education as a first-grade teacher at Atwood Elementary School in 1976. She also taught at Westwood Elementary School in Memphis and at Lawnwood Elementary School, Indian River Academy and for the St. Lucie County School District, all in Ft. Pierce, Fla.
She has served as an educator in the Dyer County School System for a total of 17 years. In Dyer County, she has served in kindergarten, fifth-, sixth- and eighth-grade classrooms. The 2012-2013 Tennessee Teacher of the Year designation is the sixth time Hicks has been honored as a Teacher of the Year on the building level and her third time to be recognized as a Tennessee Teacher of the Year on the district level. She has also been named to Who's Who Among America's Teachers.
Hicks has service has extended into the community.
"As a member of the First United Methodist Church, I periodically conduct the children's church," said Hicks in her Teacher of the Year application. "I also attend the Esther Circle meetings whose responsibility is to support other members in times of death or sickness. The United Methodist Women also support the community with a winter coat drive, cookbook sales and dinner functions to raise money in support of missionaries."
As a member of the Alpha Delta Kappa Honorary Teachers' Sorority, Hicks contributes children's clothing and other necessary items to the battered women's shelter in Dyersburg. The sorority also supports St. Jude Children's Research Hospital in Memphis.
"We also select a senior in high school who plans to major in education to be the recipient of a $250 scholarship," said Hicks.
She has developed and implemented monthly meetings for parents and children through Tennessee Infant Parent Services and conducts a writers' club for students at Northview.
"(The writers' club is) designed to encourage students to develop their writing skills," said Hicks. "Students submit writing throughout the year, which ultimately is compiled into an anthology. The anthology is placed at local doctors' offices, libraries and neighboring schools."
She holds a Bachelor of Science in business administration with an emphasis in Accounting and Master of Arts in teaching, both from Bethel University. She has since attended many workshops ranging from technology and iPads in the classroom to creativity in yearbook.
Roberson began her career in education as a math and algebra I teacher at Three Oaks Middle School in 2004. She began teaching at Dyer County High School in 2008.
She has been a member of the School Improvement Committee from 2004 until present, serving as chair of that organization from 2005-2006. She also served on the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Committee from 1999-2005 and the Tennessee State Department Book Adoption in 2005 and 2011. She designed curriculum maps for all math courses in the 1999-2000 academic year.
As an educator, she holds a 100 percent passing rate for Algebra I Gateway students from 2005-2007, with each of her students earning an Advanced score. She also coached the school's co-ed cheer squad to two state championships and a national championship.
She has led her peers as a teacher mentor and a team teacher; and her students as middle school AAU basketball coach, middle school girls basketball head coach, middle school boys basketball assistant coach, drama instructor and newspaper director for Three Oaks Middle School, girls 8-year-old and under softball coach, varsity basketball cheerleading coach, competitive cheerleading coach, co-director of the Little Choctaw Cheer and Dance Program and a volunteer for the Newbern Girls Softball League. She has also participated and chaired the Faculty Follies Fundraiser to earn money for college scholarships.
"(We) currently (have) five former cheerleaders in college on full cheer scholarships," said Roberson in her Teacher of the Year application. "(And) five seniors this school year with college offers (from) Division I (schools)."
Roberson's service extends into the community as a blood donor and blood drive volunteer, a United Way participant, co-organizer for the annual community Fall Festival and a member of the West Tennessee Emergency Response Team. She is a member of Mount Carmel Methodist Church, where she has served as puppet ministry director, co-chair for the annual yard sale and a Sunday school teacher for both pre-school/elementary and adult classes.
She was also nominated for Teacher of the Year at Dyer County High School in the 2011-2012 academic year.
Educators in the Dyer County School System named Teacher of the Year by their peers on the building level include:
He earned a Bachelor of Science degree in computer science from the University of North Alabama in 2003, a Master of Science in advanced secondary education from the University of Martin in 2008, and an Education Specialist degree in administration/superintendency from William Woods University in 2011.
He began his career in education as a football coach at the University of North Alabama in 2002. He also taught and coached at Crockett County High School and Ripley High School. He has served Dyer County High School as head boys and girls golf coach, assistant football coach and a ninth- through 12th-grade teacher.
He has been a leader with the Dyer County ACT Improvement Committee since its inception and as served on the Dyer County School Advisory, Textbook and School Improvement Team committees for five years. He has been a trainer and teacher mentor for seven years and a member of the Freshman Transition Team for two years.
"I was born and raised in Dyer County and have been actively involved in the community ever since I was in high school," said Baker in his Teacher of the Year application. "I worked in the community in high school through normal youth group service. In college, I continued my service by mentoring elementary school children in a big brother program in Florence, Ala. I also volunteered during that time to feed the hungry and read to underprivileged children through the Lions in the Community program."
After college graduation, Baker served a three-year stint as a full-time assistant football coach for his alma mater the University of North Alabama. He then took advantage of an opportunity to return to Dyer County to teach mathematics and coach football.
She holds a bachelor's degree in elementary education from Middle Tennessee State University and master's degree in administration from William Woods University.
She began her career in education as a third-grade teacher at Joseph Brown Elementary School in 2003. She also served JBES as a kindergarten teacher before moving to Newbern Grammar School in 2007 and joining the faculty at Trimble Elementary in 2011.
Codgill was a member of the leadership team at both Newbern and JBES, where she also served as grade-level chair for kindergarten. She feels serving the community has been a natural transition.
"Living in the same town in which I teach makes it very easy for me to be committed to my community and school through service oriented activities," said Codgill on her Teacher of the Year application. "I feel it is very important to be involved in my community because children need positive role models. They love to see their teachers when they are attending community and church functions. I believe the more active and caring I am in the community, the more active and caring citizens the children will become."
Codgill serves Trimble as a member of the Trimble Area Women's Civic Club, the town's Friends of the Library group and a volunteer for the Covered Bridge Festival. In her church life, she has served as a VBS leader and crafts teacher, a Mission Friends leader and AWANA leader. She has also supported St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, Susan G. Komen for the Cure and Safe Line Pregnancy Resource Center through her involvement with ADK teacher sorority. Her sorority chapter also provides one aspiring teacher with a scholarship each year.
She holds a Bachelor of Science in education from the University of Tennessee at Martin and a master's of education from William Woods University. She also holds certification as a Reading Recovery Advocate from the University of Tennessee at Memphis.
She began her career in education as a kindergarten self-contained classroom teacher at Ripley Primary School in August 1999. She joined the faculty of Newbern Elementary in August 2002 and has also served NES as a first-grade self-contained classroom teacher and a Reading Recovery teacher.
She has led her peers as a member of the Leadership Team, a Cooperative teacher for a student teacher and a lead teacher for literacy in-service training.
Her service extends into her community through Trimble First Baptist Church, Newbern First Baptist Church, the American Red Cross, the Dyersburg/Dyer County Union Mission and the Kevin Edgin Memorial Scholarship Fund.
"I have served on and always support the Relay for Life Chapter of Dyer County," said Garner on her Teacher of the Year application. "This year, I had the chance to help out a very special family whose son is a student at my school by being involved in a cancer fundraiser for him. I also had the chance to run in the St. Jude half marathon this year and not only help out local cancer patients, but cancer patients all over the world. It was very breathtaking running for those little fighters."
As a proud and active alumnae, Garner is a loyal fan and supporter of the Dyer County Choctaws. She also supports her own children in their many activities and the youth of the community in the extracurricular activities they enjoy.
"I am very proud to say that I live and support Newbern and Dyer County in all the ways possible," said Garner.
She holds a Bachelor of Science in human learning pre-K-3 from the University of Tennessee at Martin and a Master of Education in educational leadership from Trevecca Nazarene University.
She began her career in education as a Title VI teacher at Caruthersville Elementary School in 1999. She also served as a Orientation Specialist at Dyersburg State Community College and a kindergarten and pre-K teacher at Dyersburg Primary School before joining the faculty of Finley Elementary in 2010. She obtained her Beginning Administrator License in 2008.
She has led her peers as a cooperating teacher for University of Memphis block students, a member of the DPS Leadership Team and CSEFEL Leadership Team and a member of the DPS pre-K Advisory Council.
Her service extends into the community through church and civic-related activities. She regularly attends Riverwoods Church and supports the FES Parent Teacher Organization.
"I have always been dedicated to serving my community in whatever way is needed," said Leonard on her Teacher of the Year application. "Even as a young person, I saw the importance of doing acts of kindness and service; whether it be through church mission trips, Vacation Bible School, teaching Sunday school or donating to help others."
Many of Leonard's activities reveal a team spirit at Finley Elementary, as well. In the 2012-2013 academic year, Leonard worked diligently to obtain a paper recycling bin for the school, participated in the afterschool tutoring program and organized a school-wide project to show love and support for Sandy Hook Elementary School.
"I feel that I am setting a good example for my students and peers by being fully committed in all areas of the school," said Leonard. "All of my actions come from my love for people and teaching. My hope is that my dedication and positive attitude will be an example for my students and colleagues. Community and school involvement have always and will continue to play an important role in my life."
She holds an associate degree in elementary education from Dyersburg State Community College and bachelor's degree in elementary education K-8 from the University of Memphis.
She began her career in education as a seventh-grade reading teacher at Northview Middle School in the fall of 2006. She also taught eighth-grade reading at NMS.
She served as the National Junior Honor Society sponsor in 2010-2011 and 2012-2013, serving as Box Top Coordinator. She also sponsored the Burks Broadcasting sixth annual Reason for the Season Food Drive at TOMS, where students and teachers collected 1,566 canned goods.
She has led her peers by attending the 2009 State Curriculum Standards Training and sharing new lesson-plan ideas with her fellow teachers and attending the 2009 Tennessee Reading Summit and sharing new strategies with other reading teachers.
"In March 2010, I developed a strategy to improve ThinkLink scores," said Rogers in the Teacher of the Year application. "I met with each grade level to teach them my plan. Our ThinkLink scores improved in all subject areas."
Rogers was also honored as Teacher of the Year at Northview Middle School in 2010.
Her service extends into the community as a member of Three Oaks Chapel, where she has served as a Sunday school teacher since 2000 and a Vacation Bible School arts and crafts teacher for a number of years. She also serves as a Chimes for Charity volunteer, an afterschool tutor and a volunteer with the HOSTS program. She has participated in Relay for Life since 2000.
She holds a Bachelor of Science in learning foundations from Union University with areas of endorsement in early childhood education pre-K-3, elementary K-6 and middle grades 4-8. She also holds a Master of Education in curriculum and instruction from William Woods University.
Walker has served her entire tenure as an educator as a third-grade teacher at Holice Powell, where she has led professional development for her colleagues in the areas of Common Core Math Problem Solving and Motivating Unmotivated Students.
"I love the teaching profession and have found ways to give back to my community," said Walker in her Teacher of the Year application. "Our local library is an excellent resource for our children and they offer many fun and educational activities for kids of all ages throughout the year. One of the activities I love to take part in is the Summer Reading Program, (where I have) had the opportunity to lead and assist in activities for the past two years."
Walker has also served the community as a volunteer in Read Around Town and as a member of the Parr Avenue Church of Christ, where she teaches Bible school classes throughout the year to students of various ages. She also assists her church in Vacation Bible School by helping pick out curriculum and teaching classes.
Dyer County's retiring teachers will be featured in an upcoming article.