JMCSS announces Teacher of the Year honorees

JACKSON, Tenn. — The Jackson-Madison County School System announced Tuesday their recognition of 23 outstanding educators.

One was chosen from each of the district’s schools by a panel of fellow educators and co-workers, according to a release from the school system.

Of those 23, three finalists were chosen to represent each grade category:

Amanda Smith – Pre-K through 4th grade
Erit Turner – 5th through 8th grade
Amanda Kinnison – 9th through 12th grade

From left: Amanda Kinnison, Amanda Smith and Erit Turner

The school system shared the information below about the finalists along with the other honorees:

Amanda Smith is a third-grade teacher at Arlington Elementary School. In her fourth year as an educator, Smith strives to be “that teacher,” the one who inspires and changes the life of her students just like her fifth-grade math teacher did for her. “I hated math,” she remembers. “Mr. Spence took time out every day to work with me. It was then that I developed a love for math. It became one of my favorite and best subjects.”

Along with teaching, Smith serves as a learning coach, technology teacher leader and Beta Club sponsor. The single mom of three grew up in Illinois and graduated from the University of Memphis – Lambuth. “I am so honored and thrilled to represent JMCSS and Arlington is such a positive way.”

Erit Turner is a Health and PE teacher at North Parkway Middle School. He previously served as a special education assistant at North Side High School. The seven-year teaching veteran has taken on a host of additional duties at North Parkway, including the literacy council, student support coach and after-school tutoring co-leader. “I feel like being a teacher is what I’m called to do,” said Turner. “It’s the perfect career to have a direct, positive impact on our youth.”

A Jackson-native and product of the District, Turner is a graduate of Jackson Central-Merry. He holds degrees from the University of Memphis and Freed-Hardeman. He is also the youngest of eight siblings. When he’s not working with his students, Turner enjoys attending church, fishing and cheering on the Tar Heels, Volunteers and Lebron James.

Amanda Kinnison is the French teacher at Liberty Technology Magnet High School. “I feel honored and humbled by the recognition,” said Kinnison. “I appreciate that others would think highly enough of me to offer me this opportunity to represent Liberty and the District.” Kinnison is in her fourth year with JMCSS. She taught previously in Jackson, Miss.

Kinnison also serves as the head volleyball and tennis coach, is on the literacy team and is yearbook advisor. She grew up in Mississippi and attended the University of Southern Mississippi (Go, Golden Eagles). “Teaching allows me to share my passion for languages,” said Kinnison. “It allows me to make a positive impact on students and help them understand there’s a big world out there for them to see.”

Smith, Turner and Kinnison are finalists for the JMCSS District Teacher of the year award. That honor will be awarded at a banquet recognizing all of the Teacher of the Year candidates, May 21, at 11:30 a.m., at the Star Center.

The three will also go on to represent the District in the Southwest Regional competition for the state Teacher of the Year Award.

The building level Teacher of the Year honorees are:

Alexander Elementary – Sheri Moon
Andrew Jackson Elementary – Melissa Blankenship
Arlington Elementary – Amanda Smith
Community Montessori – Maryann McClendon
Denmark Elementary – Kimberly McNeal
East Elementary – Miranda Jackson
Isaac Lane Elementary – Leah Wages
Jackson Career and Technology – Philip Plyler
Jackson Central-Merry Early College High –Eugene Clark
Liberty Technology Magnet High – Amanda Kinnison
Lincoln Elementary – Debbie Welch
Madison Academic Magnet High – Gale Phillips
North Parkway Middle – Erit Turner
North Side High – Sharon Perry-Theus
Northeast Middle – Jana Young
Parkview Learning Center – Stephanie Gordon
Pope School – Samantha Wood
Rose Hill School – Carol Ann Alphin
South Elementary – Angel Roberts
South Side High – Mark Barnett
Thelma Barker Elementary – Tanneth Gander
West Bemis Middle – Jocelyn Wingate
Whitehall Pre-K at Nova – Lynda Myracle