MARIANNA, Fla. (WMBB) — School district officials traveled from across the area to award a select few with significant achievement awards on Monday.
The teachers and faculty members were surprised to see school district members in their classrooms and teachers like “Rookie of the Year” winner, Thomas Burnette, were even more surprised to find out why.
“Never in my wildest dreams,” Burnette said. “In fact, I question their sanity when it first happened because I’m thinking ‘Are y ‘all sure you wanna make me the rookie?’ But I’m very thankful and humbled by it.”
“Principal of the Year” winner, Eddie Ellis, said he will retire this year from his position at the Marianna K-8 school. He said it feels good to end his 40-year career with this award.
“It kind of lets you know that if you stay faithful, and if you work hard, and you treat people the way they should be treated, then good things can happen to you and that’s the way I look at this,” Ellis said.
The last stop on today’s award tour was Cottondale High School where one faculty member became the Jackson County School District “Teacher of the Year.”
“My husband as a matter of fact this morning he said ‘Lemme know when they come by’ I said “Honey, no it ain’t happening said “Teacher of the Year” winner, Hannah Wilkes. “But yes, that’s a shock.”
Wilkes is an eighth-grade teacher at Cottondale High School. She said winning this award while she is teaching at her own alma mater is full circle for her.
“I’m just thankful for the opportunity to serve our kids,” Wilkes said. “To me, they’re more than students they’re people and I’m just thankful to invest in their future.”
“Assistant Principal of the Year” winner, Sue Anne Tharp is currently the assistant principal at the Marianna K-8 school. She said receiving this award is a humbling experience.
“I believe we are all feeling the weight between the pandemic and merging the schools, I believe I’m just part of a team and just doing my part,” Tharp said.
Another winner from Monday was Nakia Williams. Williams is a paraprofessional at the Malone School and took home the award for School-Related employee of the year.
“Amazing, um surprised, I never expected this,” Williams said. “This is the best work environment ever. I have the best boss. I couldn’t ask for anything more.”