Rutherford County Schools

Skip to main content
Main Menu Toggle

Rutherford County Schools announces 2021-2022 Teachers of the Year

By GRAYSON LEE MAXWELL
Rutherford County Schools

 

When Jessica Pinson was told she would be the high school choice for district-level Teacher of the Year, she was surprised.

 

She also felt undeserving.

 

“Simply because if I look at my department, or the rest of the faculty, I don’t deserve it any more than they do,” explained Pinson, a teacher at Central Magnet School. “I have watched them pour countless hours into troubleshooting and adapting lessons for kids in such a challenging year. We’re all doing it.” 

 

Pinson’s love for her content is absolute. After deciding to minor in Spanish in college, Pinson attended a study abroad where she says teaching wasn’t even on her radar. She just loved the challenge of learning a new language.

 

Now she shares that love with her students.

 

“At this point in the year you start to see things click with kids – I’m so lucky to be able to teach them,” Pinson said.

 

Pinson, along with 50 other Rutherford County teachers, will be honored with a reception for the 2021-2022 Teachers of the Year on April 28 at Embassy Suites in Murfreesboro. The pandemic has prevented the school district from hosting an in-person Teachers of the Year event the past two years.

 

Kaitlyn Benavides, of Rocky Fork Middle School, is another of the honorees.

 

She has been named the middle-level choice for Teacher of the Year and sees it as a chance to shine a light on what librarians do. As she works alongside many different content areas and grade levels, one of her roles is increasing classroom engagement and innovating content, she said.

 

“I wanted to make sure people had a clear understanding of the role and how useful we are to the school community and culture,” Benavides said.

 

Benavides taught eighth grade for about seven years before transitioning to the role of librarian, all while coaching multiple sports. When Rocky Fork opened, the role was one she did not want to pass up.

 

“It’s so fun because every single day is dynamic and I get to be creative,” Benavides said. “I love the ability to support teachers with their content area standards — finding a way to make that interactive and dynamic.”

 

Benavides offers this as advice to those entering the teaching profession, or who are eager to enter a career in education:

 

“There are going to be challenges along the way, but always go back to the WHY. When facing a trial always keep that in mind. Truly believe — you are making an impact.”

 

Shannon Creekmore is the RCS elementary-level winner for Teacher of the Year.

 

She has taught for 14 years at Wilson Elementary. Initially, she thought kindergarten was her calling,  but after her first year teaching third grade, decided to stay for 13 more.

 

“The community and the administration and the families have kept me here,” Creekmore said. “I have had siblings upon siblings in my classes. And it has been really great to make connections with families.”

 

Creekmore explained how she has always wanted to be a teacher, and how she feels that is where the Lord has placed her. When nominated, she received a surprise visit from many members of administration who have supported her. 

 

“My principal burst into the room. My mentor was there as well as the RTI coaches and (Assistant Superintendent) Dr. (Jimmy) Sullivan. I had every kind of happy emotion. It was not anything I had ever expected. It was a great honor. Being a teacher for 15 years, especially for the last three years, this was just a very big affirming moment for me,” Creekmore said.

 

For teachers who may just be starting out, or who are looking for advice for next year, Creekmore gives this advice:

 

“Being a teacher is a calling. You must love what you do. Stick with it — there will be hard days and challenging days — remember why you chose to do what you do.”

 

The following is a complete of the 2021-2022 RCS Teachers of the Year:

 

Barfield Elementary – Sheryl Evans

Blackman Elementary – Tye McCleary

Blackman High – Lauren Hutchins

Blackman Middle – Sheila Almeda Panther

Brown's Chapel Elementary – Rebecca Kuchta

Buchanan Elementary    – Kortnee Carter

Cedar Grove Elementary – Kathy Mosley

Central Magnet – Jessica Pinson (Secondary-level winner)

Christiana Elementary    – Lora Vetter

Christiana Middle – Carlie Littrell

Daniel McKee – Sarah Long

David Youree Elementary – Audra McLeod

Eagleville School – Mary Alice Curtis

Holloway High – Sheneka Macha Hernandez

Homer Pittard Campus – Anne S. Mayes

John Colemon Elementary – Myra Renea Elliott

Kittrell Elementary – Rebecca Lynn Speck

Lascassas Elementary Nicheala Allison

LaVergne High   – Dale Hudson

LaVergne Lake   – Melissa Natter

LaVergne Middle – Brayan Bunyi

McFadden – Jenny Copeland

Oakland High – Carol Keener

Oakland Middle – Elizabeth Sinor

Plainview Elementary     – Katelyn Hand

RCS Virtual School – Laura L. Schlesinger

Riverdale High   – Kyle Hurt

Rock Springs – Elementary Carla Derrick

Rock Springs Middle – Nathaniel Morris

Rockvale Elementary – Christy Steagall

Rockvale High    – Kimberly Kay Armstrong

Rockvale Middle – Caitlyn Rae Brown

Rocky Fork Elementary – Shameeka Edwards

Rocky Fork Middle – Kaitlyn Benavides (Middle-level winner)

Roy Waldron Elementary – Emily G. Faust

Siegel High – Roger R. Alcendor

Siegel Middle – Mary Hannah Hardiman

Smyrna Elementary – Shelly Mangrum

Smyrna High – Donald A. Trumphour

Smyrna Middle – Jenny Kawano

Smyrna Primary – Jesse Rutherford

Smyrna West – Dana Renee Bennett

Stewarts Creek Elementary – KaVitaLyles

Stewarts Creek – High Emily Spears

Stewarts Creek Middle – Allison Haley Glapa

Stewartsboro Elementary – Brittany May

Thurman Francis – Mary Jennifer Reeves

Walter Hill Elementary – Molly   Swann

Whitworth-Buchanan Middle      – Joshua Caleb Picklesimer

Wilson Elementary – Shannon Marie Creekmore (Elementary-level winner)

Principal of the Year – April Sneed, Whitworth-Buchanan Middle

Supervisor of the Year – Mark Gullion, federal programs coordinator