Demopolis City Schools recognizes teachers of the year

Published 12:00 am Saturday, January 12, 2008

DEMOPOLIS &8212; As classes were coming to a close last fall, employees of the Demopolis City School system had one more difficult decision to make: who to nominate and pick for teacher of the year.

The distinction, which was voted on by teachers and staff at all four of the schools in the system, is a way to recognize teachers who have gone above and beyond in the past year said Superintendent Wayne Vickers. Out of the four chosen, one teacher will be chosen for nominated as one of Alabama&8217;s teachers of the year later this Spring.

After careful consideration, the chosen teachers of the year were Tammy Spruell of

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Westside Elementary, Amelia Mackey of U.S. Jones Elementary, Rollie McCall of Demopolis Middle School and Sidney Chasteen of Demopolis High School.

Tammy Spruell

Tammy Spruell, a first grade teacher at Westside Elementary, has been teaching for nearly 21 years. All but one of those years, she has been with the Demopolis City School system.

Although she is the teacher in the classroom, Spruell said she has not missed out on some lessons to learn of her own.

When she is not repairing feelings in the classroom, Spruell said she loves to spend time with her family at home, which includes husband Bryan, children Trent, 11, and Jamie, 24. She also has a four-year-old grandson, Dallas, and a granddaughter on the way.

When asked about her recognition as teacher of the year, Spruell was humble.

I am very thankful to work in such a wonderful school system with a great faculty and supportive administrative team. It is a very rewarding feeling knowing that my colleagues appreciate my efforts.&8221;

Amelia Mackey

Amelia Mackey, who is a third-grade teacher at U.S. Jones Elementary, in education as a teacher for 20 years, nine of which have been in the Demopolis City School system.

Though Mackey is always pushing hard to make herself and her students achieve more, she said the life of a teacher has its own fair share of problems.

Furthermore, Mackey said she dedicates herself to teaching in such a way that she hopes each child she teaches will feel &8220;loved, a sense of self-worth and continue to grow through the years.&8221;

She and her husband, John, have two children: Nikki, 21, who attends the University of Alabama, and John, 17, who is a senior at Demopolis High School.

When asked about being teacher of the year she said, &8220;It is such a great honor, and one that I do not take lightly. Thanks to all my wonderful co-workers, students and parents that inspire me to want to do my job in a way that will help me help my students overcome everyday problems and achieve dreams.&8221;

Rollie McCall

Just like energetic and rapid-fire teaching style suggests, Rollie McCall is a different breed of teacher. Furthermore, he did not start his career in education like most do.

After completing his undergraduate work in science, he came to work for the school as a teacher&8217;s aide in a special education classroom.

He also said his experience as an aid showed him there was more of a need for male teachers as role models for children. So, for the last 10 years, McCall has worked in the Demopolis School system teaching physical science.

What he enjoys most about his job is &8220;knowing the kids leave today knowing more than they did yesterday, and that I was a part of that.&8221;

McCall also said most teachers do not go into the field for any other reason than they really enjoy it and what to make a difference with children. He said he would definitely put himself in that category.

When he is not in the classroom, he is on the basketball court as a coach, which helps him to hone his love of sports.

Sidney Chasteen

The sound inside of Sidney Chasteen&8217;s classroom is oftentimes loud, full of laughs, but always enthusiastic, and she said she likes it that way. Chasteen, who teaches Spanish at Demopolis High School, has been teaching for 33 years &8212; seven of which have been in Demopolis.

Chasteen said she enjoys getting her students excited about learning and finding ways to infuse creativity into their coursework by adding special projects and presentations. The product of this work is displayed all over her colorful classroom where student-made pi&110;atas and paintings line the walls.

As an educator, she has been able to take students to places like Madrid, where she said students were able to connect their lessons with the actual culture of the language they learned, which said was invaluable.

In her time as a teacher, she said her students have taught her patience and the valuable skill of how to stay young, Her philosophy of teaching is to first and foremost to have respect for her students. Also she believes in &8220;teaching from bell to bell.&8221;

She and her husband, Richard, have two sons: Allen, 30, and Brooks, 25.

When asked about her new role as teacher of the year, Chasteen said she felt &8220;undeserving.&8221;