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Putnam County School System Recognizes Teachers of the Year

PUTNAM COUNTY, TENN. – The Putnam County School System kicked off Teacher Appreciation Week by hosting a luncheon and recognition program for the Teachers of the Year on Monday at Central City Church in Cookeville.

A teacher from every school in Putnam County was recognized for their excellence in the classroom this past year.

“Teaching is a calling, and it is how we serve our community. All of you here today have been recognized by your peers as shining examples of our profession,” said PCSS Director Corby King. “You are the leaders in your classrooms, and you set an example that others want to emulate. The recognition that you receive today is a small token of the appreciation that we have for you each and every day. Thank you for all you do daily for your students and our schools.”

The Teacher of the Year honorees were voted on by their peers. Earning Teacher of the Year distinction at the district level were Alicia Upchurch, Margie Cavendar, and Lucinda Queen.

Upchurch, who is in her 11th year at Cane Creek, was honored with the elementary district award. 

“It was a surprise,” said Upchurch. “I work with amazing educators that I feel all deserve this honor. I am very thankful that my peers recognized me this way. 

As a kindergarten teacher, Upchurch says she enjoys the kids and the creativity. 

“Kindergarteners are my favorite people on the planet,” said Upchurch. “If you want joy, a laugh, or a hug-come to Kindergartner. Teaching is a fun career and it’s so fulfilling.

Other elementary school honorees included: Lindsay Null, Algood; Brandy Malone, Baxter Primary; Anna Hitchock, Burks; Jamie Brown, Capshaw; Jeni Lackey, Cornerstone; Emily Crawford, Jere Whitson; Nichol Tucker, Northeast; Ashley Clemons, Park View; Angela Bilbrey, Prescott South; and Rachel Pruett, Sycamore.

Cavendar is wrapping up a fulfilling career at Prescott South. In her 27th year, she was honored as the middle school district teacher of the year. 

“In a school with so many talented teachers, it was great for my peers to see that I am are making a difference in students' lives,” said Cavendar. “The best part of teaching is helping the students learn something new. That moment when they know it well enough to teach it to someone else is priceless.”

Other middle school honorees included: Kellie Waite, Algood; Tiffany Williams, Avery Trace; and Julie Sliger, Upperman.

Queen, who teaches in the VITAL program, was honored with the high school teacher of the year award. 

“It is very humbling to be recognized by such a wonderful group of educators,” said Queen. “I love my subject, but not nearly as much as the people I have the opportunity to teach it to. God gave me a love for what I do, but he truly blessed me when he gave me a heart for students.”

Other high school honorees included: Michael Barlow, Cookeville; Blake Van Winkle, Monterey, Aaron Casey, Upperman; and Elizabeth Johnson, White Plains Academy.

Elementary honorees

Elementary Winners - The elementary school honorees for Putnam County School System Teacher of the Year are (from left) Nichol Tucker, Northeast; Angela Bilbrey, Prescott South; Brandy Malone, Baxter Primary; Lindsay Null, Algood; Alicia Upchurch, Cane Creek; Rachel Pruett, Sycamore; Jeni Lackey, Cornerstone; Anna Hitchock, Burks, Jamie Brown, Capshaw; Emily Crawford, Jere Whitson; and Ashley Clemons, Park View.

Middle School Honorees

MiddleSchoolWinners - The middle school honorees for Putnam County School System Teacher of the Year are (from left) Tiffani Williams, Avery Trace; Margie Cavendar, Prescott South; Kellie Waite, Algood; and Julie Sliger, Upperman.

High School Honorees

HighSchoolWinners - The high school honorees for Putnam County School System Teacher of the Year are (from left) Lucinda Queen, VITAL; Elizabeth Johnson, White Plains Academy; Blake Van Winkle, Monterey; Aaron Casey, Upperman; and Michael Barlow, Cookeville.