Morgan County Schools honors teachers, staff member of year
Two teachers and an employee in the Morgan County School system were treated to a big surprise this past week when a limousine showed up outside each of their schools.
Sallye Swafford, Ashley Boyd and Jackie Huskey were the honorees, named the elementary Teacher of the Year, Secondary Teacher of the Year and Employee of the Year, respectively.
Swafford, of Hartselle, said it was one of the “biggest and best surprises” when the crew from Morgan County Central Office visited Lacey’s Spring School. Swafford is a fourth-grade teacher there and has been in education for 15 years.
Before teaching in Morgan County, Swafford also taught at an inner-city charter school in St. Paul, Minn.; a school in the Minneapolis suburbs; an inner-city school in St. Louis; and at Harvest Elementary in Madison County.
“I am honored to be a part of each of my students’ life stories. I love to watch them learn and grow as people,” she said. “It is my goal for them to leave me a little more knowledgeable and filled with a love of learning.”
Swafford said being chosen as the district’s top elementary teacher is a great honor, saying there are “so many great educators” in Morgan County Schools, from whom she has learned a lot. “I am grateful for the opportunity to contribute to our district,” she added.
Swafford said truly knowing a child is the first step to teaching him or her. “I believe there is something to love in every child, and every child has the potential to succeed,” she said. “They all have a story.
“Some are filled with rainbows and unicorns, bright and full of potential, but some have dark stories that most adults wouldn’t withstand. The hardest students I’ve had have bloomed once I knew their story and met them where they were.
“Good teachers understand that taking the time to know a child reaps rewards in the future, and there is more to teaching than just the subjects we teach.”
Ashley Boyd, a Brewer High graduate, said her father, who has been an educator for nearly 40 years, is why she became a teacher. “I was able to see firsthand the positive influence he had in the lives of his students,” said the Jacksonville State University and University of Alabama graduate.
Boyd began her career with Morgan County Schools in 2007, teaching and coaching at Priceville High School. She has been at Cotaco School for eight years, where she teaches math to seventh– and eighth–graders, and she said she is humbled to be in the community where she grew up and teach at Cotaco.
“I love being a teacher. Although it is an extremely challenging and emotionally demanding job, it is also one of the most rewarding,” Boyd said. “I am passionate about helping students learn the mathematics skills they need to excel in whatever area they choose to pursue, but I also want to be a light for students and a positive role model for them.”
“I am extremely honored to be chosen as the Secondary Teacher of the Year for Morgan County Schools,” she added. “Being a teacher is sometimes a thankless job, and to be recognized this way after many years of hard work is very encouraging. I do not feel like I deserve to be chosen for this recognition any more than any of my colleagues. We are all working extremely hard and doing our best to do whatever it takes to have a successful school year.”
Patrick Patterson, the district’s director of secondary education, is chairman of the committee that selected the district-level winners, and he praised them as being “extremely committed to their schools and their students. It makes me proud to work with such amazing people.”
The teachers’ applications that were submitted for the district recognition will be submitted to the Alabama State Department of Education as part of the 2021-2022 Alabama Teacher of the Year program.
“We are especially proud of all our faculty and staff, particularly this year during the pandemic,” said Morgan County Superintendent Robert Elliot. “These three employees are examples of the dedication and commitment to our students and our schools. Each one was nominated by the faculty and staff of their school and chosen by a panel of their peers. They were all surprised by their selection, and we are happy to honor them in this way.”
Huskey, a 60-year-old Atlanta native, now works at the same school he attended for first through fifth grades. He worked in the construction field before being hired as a custodian, and during his tenure at Union Hill, he also coached football for nine years.
Janice Vest, a counselor at the school, said Huskey always has a good attitude and happy disposition.
“He brightens the day for everyone he comes in contact with,” Vest said in a recommendation letter. “Jackie will stay until the job is complete and has stood the test of time during the COVID outbreak this year,” sanitizing the school to make sure children are safe, she said.
Huskey describes the Union Hill staff as being “like family. Everybody cares for one another.”
When a student asked him if he enjoys his job, “I said I like working here because of y’all,” Huskey said. “They are precious kids.”
Marian Accardi contributed to this story.