Archived Stories for Union County Public Schools
Forest Hills High history teacher is 2014-15 Teacher of the Year
Union County Public Schools has chosen a high school history teacher as it’s 2014-15 teacher of the year.
Jennifer Whitley, a civics and world history teacher at Forest Hills High School, was named during Thursday's (April 24, 2014) UCPS Teacher of the Year Banquet the 2014-15 UCPS teacher of the year.
Whitley told the room filled with UCPS educators that she is a product of Union County Public Schools, having graduated from Forest Hills High School where her mother taught school and she herself has taught since 2002. She has also taught at Piedmont High (1999-2001) and Anson Senior High Schools (1998-1999).
“There are so many of you in here that impacted my life,” she said, mentioning her mentor, Jimmie Quesinberry, who began his teacher career at Forest Hills High School.
“I grew up at Forest Hills. I graduated from there and I couldn’t wait to come back,” Whitley said. “My mom was a teacher at Forest Hills High School and Piedmont before that. I was blessed to have a mom who showed me that as an educator it takes a village; it takes a community, it takes the homes, the teachers, the administrators, the businesses and the people around them. Sometimes we don’t have all those components, and it’s up to us to step up and fill those shoes.”
Her principal, Dr. Kevin Plue, said he was not surprised that she was chosen. “She is absolutely the epitome of a teacher who lives the mission statement of our school which is striving to make each child the best he or she can be and reach their fullest potential. She works hard every day for every one of her children. That level of urgency and personalization of education is what we need in all of our teachers.”
UCPS Superintendent Dr. Mary Ellis addressed all the school-level winners at the banquet. “It’s been a wonderful year for children in our school system,” Ellis said.
“They get the best you have to offer every single day, whether they come to school hungry or their bellies filled, whether mom and dad say they're going to separate or going to have to move," Ellis said. "No matter what the situation, we are teachers and that means we take every child where he is and it’s our goal to move those children forward. That is our calling in life.”
Ellis added that these are tough times for education in the state and nation.
“Education has been assaulted from every flank. It takes that intrinsic motivation to be a teacher in these dark days. But I have found personally and professionally that it’s darkest just before daylight comes. I believe daylight is coming on so many different levels. And if you don’t believe that, how can we have children believe in the future and how can we have children grow up to be you in the next generation? You have a calling if you’re a teacher. I salute each and every one of you tonight. You’re an awesome group.”
During the program, the 2013-14 UCPS Teacher of the Year, Kerri Sofsian a teacher at Kensington Elementary School, reflected on her year, the people who influenced her, adding that teachers don’t do the job alone.
“This year reenergized me,” Sofsian added. “It made me think about what I do and how I can make it better.”
For winning the countywide Teacher of the Year title, Whitley received $500 and a Teacher of the Year ring. The Union County Education Foundation also awarded Whitley $1,000 for her personal use.
Pierce Group Benefits sponsored the 2014-15 Teacher of the Year Banquet, held at Rolling Hills Country Club.
Written by: Deb Coates Bledsoe, UCPS Communications Coordinator
Posted: Apr 25, 2014 by Deb Coates Bledsoe