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Two John Essex teachers nominated for Disney award

Being a teacher is one of the most rewarding jobs a person can have. Martha Smelley and Lucetta Vincent understand and reap those rewards at John Essex High School and Elementary.

Honored for their outstanding teaching skills, Smelley and Vincent have been nominated for Disney’s American Teacher Awards.

Martha Smelley has been a member of the Marengo County area school system for over 30 years. She has been nominated to be honored in Who’s Who Among American Teachers. She received a bachelor’s degree from the University of Alabama and a master’s degree from the University of West Alabama.

Further, she has worked with a committee in Montgomery to write Pathways, a teacher’s guide for the English and reading skills required to pass the new Alabama Graduation Exam.

Her dedication shows. "Teaching is a major part of my life," Smelley said. "I have spent many years working to encourage and help children. I feel flattered and appreciative to be nominated."

Also nominated for the Disney American Teacher Award is Lucetta Vincent, a nine-year teaching professional. "I chose this profession because I love kids and working with kids," Vincent said. "I’ve always seen myself as a teacher. I feel honored and grateful to be rewarded for my work."

Vincent is a third grade teacher at John Essex Elementary. She holds a bachelor’s and a master’s degree from The University of West Alabama. "When you see a child respond positively, when a light bulb goes off, you realize that you are giving the child the encouragement to achieve," she added.

With the Disney American Teacher Awards, the Walt Disney Company recognizes and rewards the outstanding, creative work that teachers do throughout the year to promote learning.

An independent committee of teachers and representatives from educational organizations reviews all applications and selects 30 teachers as Disney’s American Teacher Awards honorees for 2002.

In addition to participating in a recognition ceremony, each honoree will receive a $10,000 honorarium, and their school will receive $5000, and the Outstanding Teacher of the Year will receive a total of $25,000. The Outstanding Teacher’s school will receive a total of $10,000.

In the future Vincent plans to continue her commitment to learning. "If it is the Lord’s will, I will continue to be in education," she said. "The students are my number one priority.

They are representative of all that our future holds. I want to help cultivate that positive future, change a life because that’s what teachers do &045;&045;touch lives."

For Smelley, the future holds a continuation of a 30-year journey.

"I don’t want to put a cap on my time with children," she said. "I know that I want to continue to help students whether in the classroom or another arena.

I will continue to help students graduate and attend college. It is my life’s work."