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Frye, Johnson, Shaffer among 20 honored as Teachers of the Year

Rick Wagner • Apr 5, 2018 at 8:30 PM

KINGSPORT — Teachers from Kingsport’s Jefferson Elementary, Robinson Middle and D-B EXCEL have been chosen district-level winners for Teachers of the Year, among 20 honored throughout Kingsport City Schools this school year.

In the grades pre-K-4, the winner is Ami Frye, a fourth-grade teacher at Jefferson, while the grades 5-8 winner is Erica Johnson, a seventh-grade English/language arts teacher at Robinson and the 9-12 winner is Sara Shaffer, a digital arts teacher at D-B EXCEL.

Frye has 16 years experience teaching, including eight in her current position. She is a literacy teacher leader, lead mentor teacher and co-leader of the Literacy Committee at Jefferson. She also has served as a member of the school’s leadership team. She was awarded the Excellence in Leadership Award from Jefferson for 2016-17. This is the second time Frye has been selected as a district teacher of the year, the first being in 1995-96 at Gordon County (Ga.) Schools.

“Mrs. Frye has excellent rapport with her students and ensures all of her students achieve at high levels by fostering a classroom environment of innovation, creativity and discovery," Jefferson Elementary principal Mike Fulkerson said. 

Johnson has eight years of teaching experience and five in her present position. She serves as Canvas Team Leaders, a “We are RNR” Action Team representative and the yearbook sponsor at the school. She has served on the New Teacher Committee, as Language Arts Department chair and a member of the RNR Leadership Team. She received the KCS “Learning Leader” award for 2016-17.

“She is an excellent teacher and a leader within the building and throughout our district,” said Robinson Middle School Interim Principal Jim Wernke. “I have had the luxury to observe her teach engaging, relevant and cross-disciplinary lessons on a daily basis.”

Shaffer has nine years teaching experience, including two in her present position. She is a Canvas Lead Teacher, Project-Based Learning coordinator and webmaster at D-B EXCEL. She also is a member of the Kingsport City Schools STREAM (Science, Technology, Reading, Engineering, Arts and Math) Leadership Team.

She was selected to participate in the Competency-Based Education pilot through the Tennessee Department of Education, as well as the Tennessee Micro-Credential pilot, the 2017-18 Tennessee STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) Innovation Network’s Innovative Leaders Institute and was featured as a teacher of the month on the TSIN website. 

“Sara Shaffer expands the role of ‘teacher’ within a school," D-B EXCEL principal Shanna Hensley said. "For instance, at minimum, I expect her students to surprise professionals within the industry with their knowledge of digital design and mastery, and at maximum... well, she is still pushing those boundaries.” 

Social studies award

In addition, the board, through member Karen Reed-Wright, recognized Adams Elementary teacher Cindy Bellamy for receiving the Tennessee Council for the Social Studies Outstanding Elementary Teacher of the Year Award. She teaches fourth grade and has been with KCS for seven years.

KCS 2018 Building-Level Teachers of the Year, as selected by their peers:

PreK - 4th Grade: Sarah Hall, Palmer Center; Whitney Gibson, Jackson Elementary; Ami Frye, Jefferson Elementary; Carrie Conkin, Johnson Elementary; Patti Smith, Lincoln Elementary; Randy Elam, Roosevelt Elementary; and Jayson Arnold, Washington Elementary.

5th - 8th Grade: Amanda Senn, Adams Elementary; Peter Joseph “P.J.” Ryan IV, Kennedy Elementary; Jeff Frye, Robinson Middle; Erica Johnson, Robinson Middle; Leslie Hardin, Sevier Middle; and John Mallick, Sevier Middle.

9th - 12th Grade, Dobyns-Bennett: Allison Berry, English; Carmen Brooks, English; Luke Douthat, Science: Jana Engle, World Language; Melissa Fields, English; Elizabeth Wilkins, World Language; and Sara Shaffer, D-B EXCEL.

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