ROBERTSDALE — If you ask successful people, they will most likely tell you that their path to success was started by someone who inspired them in their youth. Oftentimes, that person was a teacher.
On Thursday, Oct. 7, seniors from Robertsdale High School honored 27 teachers and administrators who inspired them from RHS and its feeder pattern schools including Central Baldwin Middle, Robertsdale Elementary, Elsanor School and Silverhill School.
The “Teachers Who Inspire Me” event, hosted by the Central Baldwin Education Foundation and sponsored by Alabama Gulf Coast Properties and Shield Grinder Pumps with assistance from the Central Baldwin Chamber of Commerce’s Junior Executive program, was held before the Thursday night kickoff of the Golden Bears football game against the McGill-Toolen Yellow Jackets.
A total of 37 seniors who participate in fall activities nominated the teachers who inspire them with multiple students nominating some teachers and faculty members. Students included participants in football, volleyball, cross country, band and cheerleading.
“This may be my favorite event CBEF does,” said the organizations President Katina Hubbard.
The best part, she said, is that the teachers know ahead of time that they were nominated, but don’t know until just before they are ready to walk onto the field who nominated them.
“I just love to see the looks on their faces when they find out who nominated them,” Hubbard said. “I love seeing the hugs and oftentimes tears when they are matched with their student.”
In the nomination process, each student gives a brief statement of why that teacher or administrator inspired them.
“That’s the inspiration to me,” Hubbard said, “the fact that this is coming from our youth who are willing to express how they are inspired by these awesome teachers we have here in Central Baldwin.”
Teachers and administrators honored Oct. 7 and the students who nominated them included:
- Matthew Miller, history teacher and coach at Central Baldwin Middle School, nominated by Russell Paramore. “Coach Miller has inspired me to do my best in everything and push myself harder,” Paramore said. “He pushes his students to do their best in the classroom.”
- Dustin Coleman, math teacher and coach at Robertsdale High School, nominated by Ethan Smith. “Coach Coleman has taught me how to be a man,” Smith said, “not only on the field but in the real world.”
- Brad Middleton, math teacher and coach at RHS, nominated by Andres Alvarado and Danny Lewandowski. “Ever since my sophomore year he taught me how to be myself and a man of character,” Alvarado said. “He inspired me to be a better person and not be afraid to try new things,” Lewandowski said.
- Lee Wilson, history teacher at CBMS, and coach at RHS, nominated by Tucker Thompson. “Coach Wilson always pushes students to work hard and achieve their goals,” Thompson said. “He is one of the most competitive people I know.”
- Brittany Eames, environmental science and STEM biology teacher at RHS, nominated by Hayden Rothe. “Mrs. Eames inspired me to take the material learned in class and apply it to real life situations,” Rothe said. “She strives to make personal connections with every student she teaches. It is obvious she loves teaching and is invested in RHS.”
- Dakota Bodree, physical education teacher and coach at RHS, nominated by Jay Racine and David Latimer. “He always shows me how to be a competitor,” Racine said. “Coach Bodree gets up every morning and gets to the grind,” Latimer said.
- Terry Puel, English teacher at RHS, nominated by Haven Davis, Taven Curry, Cameron Sawyer and Madison Smith. “She inspired me because she gave me a lot of good advice about life after school,” Davis said. “She pushed me to work hard and to be the best student and person I can be,” Curry said. “She taught me to work hard if I wanted something,” Sawyer said. “She is always encouraging and patient with us. She is the type of teacher not to let us give up. I love her personality and encouragement,” Smith said.
- Michelle Perry, social studies teacher at RHS, nominated by Shane Gregson and Benjamin Alleman. “She never set me up for failure. She pushed me to be the best me I can be. A life lesson she taught me is if you don’t apply yourself there will always be consequences,” Gregson said. “She was the first teacher to explain to me that when work is done, anything was able to be finished, no matter the struggle,” Alleman said.
- Marshall Ballard, social studies teacher and coach at RHS, nominated by Sage Givens, Shane Stewart and Dominick Settles. “No matter what happened he always has an upbeat attitude and shows what it means to not let something hold you down,” Givens said. “He always brings positive energy and makes people want to be around him,” Stewart said.
- Steven Grant, retired RHS administrator, nominated by Kamryn Byrd. “He had the ability to make school feel as a home away from home,” Byrd said.
- CBMS Principal Phillip Fountain, nominated by Emma Kate Langham. “Mr. Fountain showed me the positive influence teachers can have on their students,” Langham said. “It inspired me and showed me that a career in education could be my next step in life.”
- RHS Principal Joe Sharp, nominated by Lena Spears. “Mr. Sharp inspires me to always be a leader and make the most of every situation,” Spears said. “He always has a positive and encouraging attitude that reflects greatly on many students, including myself.”
- Misty Gonzales, math teacher at RHS, nominated by Grant Ewing. “She made learning easy and fun,” Ewing said.
- RHS assistant band director Bryant Ramey, nominated by Francisco Aparicio. “Mr. Ramey is one of the first few teachers that I trusted,” Aparicio said. “He is understandable, kind, respectful, hardworking, funny, focused, encouraging and positive. He always tries to keep us engaged and productive in concert band. I just wish I had one more year with him.”
- RHS band director Lee Hughes, nominated by Serenity Covington, Trinity Mays and Tru Caylao. “He has been an amazing band director. (He) always pushed me to do my very best and helped me unlock potential I didn’t know I had,” Mays said. “He inspired me through his relentless hard work for each band student and his help throughout the years not only in musical abilities or academics but in my day-to-day life,” Covington said. “If it wasn’t for Mr. Hughes, I would have quit band after my freshman year. He gave me the chance to switch instruments. In doing that, it allowed me to find some of my best friends. Band was the big thing in my life and if it wasn’t for him, I would have quit that so thank you,” Caylao said.
- Justin Weindorf, social studies teacher at RHS, nominated by Andrew Ashley and Tyler Stevenson. “Dr. Weindorf made class fun every day by teaching us in a way we would understand and did different things to help us understand,” Ashley said. “He is always in a great mood which rubs off on everyone around him,” Stevenson said.
- Lauren Latham, English teacher at RHS, nominated by Manuel Campos. “She has always believed in me, even when I didn’t want to believe in myself,” Campos said.
- Billie Pitts, Spanish teacher at RHS, nominated by Amberleigh Gibbs. "Senra Pitts is an encouraging and supportive teacher," Gibbs said. "She always does what is in the best interest of her students."
- Carol Perez-Turner, English teacher at RHS, nominated by Andrew Sanders and Christa Hughen. “She was genuinely a good teacher and helped me a lot in class,” Sanders said. “She has not only been a great teacher but an amazing friend. She knows how to treat her students with the utmost respect. She genuinely loves every single one of her students and I’m so happy that I was a part of that,” Hughen said.
- Jennifer Preston, special education resource teacher at CBMS, nominated by Shaun Hughes. “She inspired me to work hard and made me think I can accomplish anything,” Hughes said.
- Christie Lyles, first grade teacher at Elsanor Elementary, nominated by Nicole Lawrence. “She is the very example of what it means to treat others the way you want to be treated,” Lawrence said, “and her passion inspired me to always go towards my dreams and aspirations. I will always look up to her, especially going into a new chapter in my life.”
- Rhonda Mosley, retired teacher from Robertsdale Elementary, nominated by Daisha Taylor. “She used her love of reading to encourage me to push myself and overcome my struggles with comprehension skills,” Taylor said.
- Bryant Baggett, art teacher at RHS, nominated by Jasmine Ashcraft. “He pushes me to be and perform my best every day and to always try,” Ashcraft said. “He has helped me realize my potential.”
- Scott Harville, counselor and coach at RHS, nominated by Peyton Salvaggio. “Coach Harville has always pushed and encouraged me to do the things I want to do,” Salvaggio said, “and he has helped me achieve my goals.”
- Lesleigh Lowery, geometry teacher at RHS, nominated by Hannah Harrison. “She has motivated me to strive for the most in life,” Harrison said. “She has taught me to reach above the stars.”
- Peyton Grantham, special education teacher and coach at RHS, nominated by Taylor Pardue. “She has always pushed me to be my best,” Pardue said. “If she saw I was struggling she picked me up. She taught me to reach above and beyond.”
- Debbie McGough, retired Silverhill teacher, nominated by Camilla Stricklin. “Mrs. McGough told me we all have a special gift that makes us special. It has stuck with me throughout the years and reminds me to continue being myself,” said Stricklin.