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Amanda Jones-Carlson named Teacher of the Year and Carl Loy is the Employee of the Year

Teachers of the year and Employees of the year from each county school gathered at the Monday, January 27, Rotary meeting. The Rotary Club of Gilchrist County hosts a luncheon each year where the countywide Teacher of the Year and Employee of the year are announced.
Both the countywide Teacher of the Year and the Employee of the Year work with students at Trenton Elementary School. Principal Dr. Ronda Adkins spoke highly of the Teacher of the Year, Amanda Jones-Carlson, who teachers first grade at Trenton Elementary. Jones-Carlson has taught with GCSD for eight years. Five of those eight years has been at Trenton Elementary.
Jones-Carlson said, “The best thing about teaching students is watching their excitement for learning grow. I absolutely love when a student finally figures out a difficult concept, it makes it all worthwhile.”
She went on to say teaching has always been her calling. Making a difference in a student’s life is what inspired her to become a teacher and continues to inspire her to be the best that she can be for each student. Jones-Carlson went on to say, “The Gilchrist County School District is the best. The faculty and staff at every school go above and beyond each and everyday for their students. It is an absolute honor to be named Teacher of the Year at TES.” Now, Jones-Carlson is not only Teacher of the Year at TES but the entire county.
Carl Loy who is the Employee of the Year for Trenton Elementary School was named Employee of the Year for the entire county. Loy works as a PE Para Professional at TES. He has worked with GCSD for four years and at TES for three years. He is a PE Coach at the elementary school. Loy also coaches Boys’ Varsity Soccer and Track and Field at Trenton High School.
Loy said, “I have the opportunity to make a difference in the young minds of our students. I also have the privilege to work with amazing people on a daily basis.”
When talking about coaching high school students Loy said, “I am blessed to have the opportunity to make a difference in the young men’s lives, the way my coaches impacted my life while I attended Trenton High School.
A field of wonderful teachers were selected by their peers to be Teachers of the Year at their respected schools.
Lynette Langford, the Bell High School Guidance Counselor, was selected by the teachers at BHS as Teacher of the Year. Langford had taught and been a principal for the 35 1/2 years before she retired. She became bored with retirement and returned to GCSD four years ago. Langford said she loves working with students and seeing them succeed.
Langford said, “I have always wanted to be a teacher for as long as I can remember, but my high school history teacher, Mrs. Marie Barnes influenced how I teach. Set expectations for each and every student and help them achieve success no matter the obstacles.” Langford said she has always felt blessed to have a job that lets me be around students every day. Langford said, “Whether it’s to watch them overcome struggles, make a great play in a game, get accepted to the college they want, get the job offer they want, enlist in the military, etc.--nothing is more rewarding. I can truly say I have never had a single day that I didn’t have something happen that I didn’t love.”
Trenton High graduate Tiffany VunCannon was named the Trenton Middle/High School Teacher of the Year. VunCannon has taught for the GCSD for 15 1/2 years. She teaches 9th through 12th grade mathematics.
VunCannon said she loves to learn and the best part of her job is that she gets to help instill in her students a passion for learning. VunCannon explained, she hopes to show students that the process of learning, no matter the content, is an end in itself, and that the pursuit of knowledge is a worthy cause, inspiring them to become lifelong learners.
Becoming a teacher was not VanCannon’s first career choice. After graduating Trenton High School she went off to college and earned a degree in computer science. She accepted a job with an IT firm. But within a few weeks in her new career, the Lord placed a calling on her heart that changed her forever. VunCannon said, “I have never heard the audible voice of God, but His message was so clear the night that He called me to become a teacher that I may as well have heard it with my ears.”
“One of my favorite scriptures is Proverbs 3:5-6. ‘Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.’ I am so thankful that the Lord chose this path for my life, and that He brought me back to Gilchrist County so that I can give back to the community that has given so much to me. Teaching has definitely been a challenge to me both personally and professionally, but it is the most rewarding career I could imagine.
Bell Elementary teacher selected Joy Railey as their Teacher of the Year. Railey has been working at Bell Elementary for the past 20 years. Railey said she likes watching the “Aha!” moments while teaching first graders. She loves watching their faces as they realize they can do something successfully that they couldn’t do before.
Railey said the unforgettable teachers that she had while in school inspired her to become a teacher. Railey started at the school as a parent volunteer and the atmosphere in the school created a hunger in her to become a sub. Substitute teaching only increased her desire to teach children. She became a para professional and found out she wanted more than assisting students. Railey said, “I wanted to teach.” The school personnel encouraged her to reach for her dream and with their continual guidance and support she was able to complete her degree and step into her teaching career.
When the Employees of the Year were recognized Jeri L. Wilson was recognized as the District Office Employee of the Year. Wilson has worked for the district for over 19 years and is a Food Service Specialist. She said she enjoys working with the people and the impact her job has on students.
Donna Smith was named the Trenton High School Employee of the Year. Smith is an ISS Teacher and the school copy person. She has worked for GCSD for over 12 years.
Smith said, “I like that I have the opportunity to work with the students and help them in many aspects of their lives.”
Cinnamon McPhearson is the Bell Elementary School Employee of the Year. McPhearson has worked in the cafeteria for the past 10 years. She is known for her calm, kind demeanor which sets the tone in the BES cafeteria. For the past two years she has served as the cafeteria manager. She knows all the children’s names and loves them. Her Principal Ms. Mathe said, “Cinnamon’s heart is huge and she has a strong desire to see that the children are fed and when she discovers a child has miss ed a meal or is hungry, she goes out of her way to ensure that food is provided aplenty.”
Bell Middle/High School picked Shelie Barnes as the school’s Employee of the Year. She has worked at the school for 13 years. She is a main dish cook for the food service.
Barns said, “I love cooking and making sure that the staff and students needs are met so they are all able to enjoy a meal.”
Superintendent Robert Rankin thanked JRA Architects and Pro Services of North Florida who sponsored the cash prizes. The Rotary Club of Gilchrist County sponsored the plaques for the winners.

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