Alabama 'Teacher of the Year' winner announced

Phil Rodney Wilson
Phil Rodney Wilson

MONTGOMERY, AL  – And the winner is…Phil Rodney Wilson, who teaches music to 1st-5th graders at Ogletree Elementary School in the Auburn City School System.

Near the end of the live broadcast event, The 2010 Alabama Stars in Education Awards, State Superintendent of Education Joseph B. Morton announced the coveted title of Alabama Teacher of the Year.

With the title, Wilson assumes the role of official spokesperson and representative for teachers in Alabama for the next year. The awards ceremony, which honors all of the district finalists for Teacher of the Year, is held annually in celebration of these teachers' dedication to education in Alabama public schools.

Cathy Coleman Bennett, a math teacher at Geneva High School in the Geneva City School System, was named 2010-2011Alternate State Teacher of the Year at the 2010 Alabama Stars in Education Awards.

Morton congratulated all of the contestants with plaques to commemorate the honor of being shining examples of professionalism and dedication to Alabama's most valued asset – its children. Of Wilson, Morton said, "His ability to integrate music with the rest of the curriculum inspires his students, their parents and his colleagues."

"Phil Wilson is the teacher everyone wishes they had: parents, students, principals and other teachers." said Cristen Herring, Director of Elementary Curriculum and Professional Development for Auburn City Schools. "Mr. Wilson teaches far more than music. Whatever the lesson – Pi, insects, U.S. Presidents, state names – Mr. Wilson has a song that will connect to the curriculum."

Herring continued, "Instruction and integration of the Fine Arts is jeopardized in these difficult times, but as a dedicated warrior, Phil Wilson, proves that discipline-based arts education is vital to the success of our students and our schools."

Wilson graduated from Troy University with a Bachelor's Degree in Music Education and earned a Master's Degree in Music Education from Auburn University. He believes that no accomplishment is greater than knowing that after his students leave his Ogletree Elementary School classroom, they are working to make this world a better place.

Cathy Coleman Bennett, the 2010-2011Alternate State Teacher of the Year, is a National Board Certified Teacher (NBCT) with 27 years of teaching experience – 25 of them at Geneva High School where she teaches math to 9th-12th graders. Bennett earned Bachelor's and Master's Degrees in Secondary Mathematics from Troy University. She is actively involved in Girls Involved in Math and Science (GEMS) and ACCESS (Alabama Connecting Classrooms, Educators & Students Statewide) Distance Learning.

A love of mathematics and the ability to help her fellow students "get it" spurred Bennett, the first college graduate in her family, to pursue a career in teaching math. She tutors at-risk students and teaching them to see the meaning and usefulness of math is one of Bennett's goals. Bennett believes that "positive experiences lead to positive outcomes" and she bases her teaching style on that principle.

Morton said both Wilson and Bennett truly personify the time, attention and patience that great educators show every day in the classroom. Morton said all of the candidates have such remarkable talent and are to be congratulated on the invaluable contributions they make in the classroom and in the lives of students.

The selection process for Alabama's Teacher of the Year begins at the school system level. Each school system can nominate an elementary and secondary teacher at the district level. One elementary teacher and one secondary teacher are selected from each of the eight state Board of Education districts. A state selection committee selects four teachers from the 16 district finalists to be interviewed for the titles Alabama Teacher of the Year and Alternate Teacher of the Year.

Wilson and Bennett will spend much of the 2010-2011 school year serving as ambassadors for public education and the teaching profession. Wilson automatically becomes Alabama's nominee for National Teacher of the Year.

INFORMATION SOURCE: Alabama Department of Education