Martinez Elementary teachers Donna Jones (back left) and Janell Smith pose with their two classes. The teachers were named Wal-Mart Teacher of the Year.
Photo by Melissa Hall
Martinez Elementary School fifth-grade teacher Janell Smith thought her class was in trouble when they were called to the lunchroom Tuesday.
She was surprised, then, when she and third-grade teacher Donna Jones were both named Wal-Mart Teacher of the Year.
"To have one Teacher of the Year from your school is something, but to have two is incredible," said Assistant Principal Tami Flowers.
Teacher of the Year is selected by majority vote from entries received at each Wal-Mart store. The teachers each received $1,000, a bouquet of flowers, a plaque and their own blue Wal-Mart vest from the Evans and Bobby Jones Expressway Wal-Mart stores.
Smith has been teaching at Martinez Elementary for three years.
"It's wonderful to wake up every day and get to do what you love to do. You have made coming to work a lot of fun," she said. "We have fun in class, we learn a lot and we play a lot, too."
Smith said she shows pupils she cares by talking to them about what's going on in their lives.
"We talk to each other about what we did over the weekend, what we ate for dinner and what we learned in reading and social studies," she said.
Her new blue vest might cause some conflicts at home, however, since her husband is a Target manager.
"She's one of the best teachers I have," said Taylor Johnson, one of Smith's students. "I also like her because she rarely gives homework."
Jones has been teaching for 18 years and was named by her peers as Martinez Elementary's Teacher of the Year in 1992 and 2001. Dedicated to making learning fun, she provides many hands-on activities in her classroom and offers rewards for her pupils to encourage them to do their best. She also supports them in and out of the classroom by attending many of their sporting events and other activities.
"She lets us all have fun while were're learning," Jeremy Clements said of his third-grade teacher.
The Wal-Mart recognition coincides with National Teachers' Day, which is May 4. Winning teachers have the opportunity to apply for state and national Teacher of the Year honors. On Tuesday in Georgia, 136 teachers were awarded a total of $136,000.
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