When Debbie Williams left Blountstown Elementary School where she served as vice principal to take the reigns at Blountstown High, she decided to take something with her. It wasn’t the name plate on her desk. She wanted math teacher Karen Tomlinson and set about recruiting her.
Her relentless efforts paid off. Not only did Tomlinson join Team BHS, she excelled in her new role assisting students struggling in math. After only 18 months at her new job, she was named the school’s Teacher of the Year. At last Wednesday’s annual ceremony held at Altha’s Cats’ Cuisine, Tomlinson was honored again, this time with the countywide award.
“Karen has had a tremendous impact on the students,” says Principal Williams. “She researches alternative methods and use those techniques in order to reach every child.”
Known for her positive attitude, Tomlinson is the teacher who stays after school to help students with math, but also willingly assists them with other school work.
“Karen is the type of teacher that does not teach a subject; she teaches students,” Williams points out. “Karen has no problem staying late and will go the extra mile to help students. Karen requires that her students work hard, but she has developed relationships with them and they are eager to please her because of that bond. The students understand Karen cares about them because she makes sure every child in her class is comfortable and feels a sense of belonging.”
Teamwork is the name of the game for Tomlinson’s students. “From day one of entering my classroom, my students are aware that I consider us a family,” she remarks. “We have discussed that everyone in the family has a role and that it takes all of us working together to make our family successful. I have emphasized that it is important to share our knowledge and support each other.”
Always at the forefront of her thoughts when teaching is her professional motto - to treat her students and parents as she would want her own child treated.
“I try to keep in mind that I am working with precious cargo,” says Tomlinson. “If you think about how you want someone to handle your ‘pride and joy’ it puts a different perspective on how you might handle the situation. I honestly feel holding myself accountable to this motto has been the key success of why I have had a thriving rapport with both my students and their parents.”
Also honored at the ceremony was Sheila Hall who was named School Related Employee of the Year.
Back when she was still a senior in high school, Hall (then Sheila Lee), came to work part-time at the School Board office. Twenty-six years later, she has worked her way up to the role of assistant finance officer for the district.
“I have always been impressed with her dedication to any endeavor,” says Suzanne Mason, the district finance officer who has supervised Hall for the past 16 years. “Sheila has always wanted to understand and learn as much as possible about the various functions that take place in the finance office and has been willing to take on additional tasks so she can learn as much as possible.”
Whether working on the school district’s budget or preparing payroll for teachers and staff, Mason says, “Sheila is very efficient at her job and goes above and beyond, spending untold extra hours on usually very detailed work.”
When the finance office lost two employees due to budget constraints, Hall didn’t miss a beat. Mason notes, “Sheila has taken on these added responsibilities and has handled them in a professional manner.”
Congratulations to Karen and Sheila, as well as to all the nominees!