Video: Teacher Of Distinction Awards Given To Educators Nominated By Peers, Students And Citizens


TUPELO, Miss. (WCBI) – Each day, teachers motivate, inspire and equip the next generation of leaders, business owners and citizens. Their classroom is their office.

But for a few hours Monday, they were recognized, and rewarded for their hard work. Twenty teachers and six assistant teachers were named teachers of distinction. The teachers get a plaque, and $1,000, while assistant teachers get an award, and $500.

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“Every September we come together and have some funds and grant to best teachers in Tupelo as teacher of distinction,” said Amy Tate, incoming president of the Association for Excellence in Education.

The Association for Excellence in Education and CREATE Foundation oversee the awards. Students, parents, teachers and other school district employees, or community members can nominate educators. Awards are based on several factors including, student academic performance and growth, effective approaches to teaching , and ability to inspire students.

Local businesses and individuals help fund grants for teachers through AEE, and the annual teachers of distinction awards.

“We know what kind of sacrifices these teachers make, personally, as well as professionally and this is an opportunity to give them some extra funds to do something positive with,” said Jack Reed, Jr.

The Teacher of Distinction Awards has numerous sponsors, Tupelo Luncheon Civitan, Rotary, Kiwanis, AEE and CREATE. Educators say it’s important for them to know they have the community’s support.

“I think this makes clear that any investment in education is an investment in our community and an investment in our future,” said Taylor Sparks, a teacher at Lawndale Elementary.

“It lets me know not only are people inside the school building concerned about the children, that businesses and people outside in community are just as concerned about their education,” said Vickie Shumpert, a teacher’s assistant at Parkway Elementary.

Lealue Triplett is a teacher at Pierce Street Elementary, who has received an AEE classroom grant for a self esteem project. She says it’s great to be recognized, and even better to get a cash award.

“I always try and give back in some way, so at least ten percent of that will be used to give back to someone else and the other, I will take a breather and have some fun,” Triplett said.

AEE has awarded more than three million to the school district since 1983.

The Teacher of Distinction Awards began in 1999 by the CREATE Foundation.