LEESVILLE, La. (Fort Polk Progress) - The Vernon Parish School Board recognized its Teachers of the Year for the 2018-2019 school year during a regular board meeting Jan. 10 in Leesville.
Awardees included Evans High School Teacher Danelle Nash, Leesville Junior High School Teacher Tiffany Martin and Anacoco High School Teacher Tammy Cecil.
Renita Page, a VPSB curriculum director, detailed the selection process. She said the Teachers of the Year are first selected by their peers at the school level, and then are chosen on the district level based on the following criteria: "They should demonstrate excellence in their field, guide students of all backgrounds and abilities to achieve excellence, demonstrate a positive impact on student achievement, and demonstrate leadership among their peers."
"These teachers encompass all of these standards," Page added. The state will select semi-finalists for the Teacher of the Year award in April.
Nash was selected as Elementary School Teacher of the Year, and expressed her excitement on receiving the award.
"This award is such a blessing and great achievement," Nash said. "This is something really powerful. It's something I can take back to my classroom and discuss with my students as a learning experience for them to work hard and always strive to reach for their goals and do their best no matter what."
Evans High School Principal Kathy Bass said that Nash is a great recipient for Elementary School Teacher of the Year.
"She has such a heart for educating students, and her students are eager to learn out of her guidance," Bass said. "It's just great to have her."
Martin was chosen as the Middle School Teacher of the Year, and Leesville Junior High School Assistant Principal Roger Atkins stressed how deserving she is of this honor.
"She is the epitome of what I would consider the ideal teacher," Atkins said. "'Reaching and teaching' is her goal. And that's what she does every day."
Martin, who is also a Fort Polk military spouse, attributed this accomplishment to the support of her administration and the hard work of her students.
"I've had a very strong administration to work for in the time that I've been here, and they've allowed me to reach the kids in the ways I've been able to -- such as meeting with students individually to plan out their goals -- and I'm also really grateful for my students," Martin said.
Her spouse, 1st Sgt. Thomas Martin of the Operations Group at the Joint Readiness Training Center and Fort Polk, said, "I'm just very thankful she was able to get the award because of all the hard work she puts in and the kids just love her. She's an inspiration."
The High School Teacher of the Year was Cecil, and Anacoco High School Principal Kevin Dowdle said he appreciates all she does for students.
"She's a very important member of our staff and teaches our kids and goes above and beyond," Dowdle said. "She's a true educator. It's been an honor to work with her."
Cecil feels honored to be chosen for the award because of what it represents.
"It's a great blessing to receive this award because it stands for all of the other teachers and the people in the classroom really working hard every day to help the kids and reach the kids to be their very best," Cecil said. "It's a great honor to stand for those people, especially in the school system that we have that is so outstanding."
Fort Polk Progress President Michael Reese said he was proud of the VPSB Teachers of the Year, and thankful for their contributions to the success of their students.
"Teachers are the foundation of the academic excellence of Vernon Parish School District," Reese said. "These Teachers of the Year exemplify the very best with their dedication to the success of each and every one of their students -- both military and civilian."
VPSB Superintendent James Williams also congratulated the Teacher of the Year on their accomplishment.
"I appreciate their hard work," Williams said. "Our teachers work hard and are very successful. There are a lot of school districts that would be very fortunate to have the teachers we've had at our schools."