MONTGOMERY - The recipients of Alabama Connecting Classrooms, Educators and Students Statewide's Administrator of the Year, Teacher of the Year and Counselor of the Year awards all come from schools that partner with Troy University for the virtual learning program.
Donna Calhoun, assistant principal of Thomasville High School, Kayla Combs, teacher for the TROY Support Center, and Scherrie Banks, counselor/coordinator for the Montgomery County Virtual Schools Program, will be honored at next month's Alabama Educational Technology Conference at Hoover High School. The three were nominated by TROY's ACCESS Support Center and were selected by panel, who reviewed nominations from the state's three support centers.
Among the criteria for the ACCESS Awards are work and diligence that had a positive impact on teaching and learning using the ACCESS program; improvement of the quality of education in Alabama's schools; work that reflects the mission and goals of the nominee's school; and utilization of technology to advance education in Alabama.
"As the director of the Troy University ACCESS Support Center, I am honored to have three of the five winners from the state representing our Troy Region," Reba Davis said. "They truly exemplify the mission of our support center to ‘Give every student every opportunity to succeed.' The Troy University ACCESS Support Center strives to provide our teachers with every possible resource to meet this objective. When our teachers are at their best, the students are at their best. And in the end, that is what it's all about."
Calhoun, who will receive the ACCESS Administrator of the Year Award, is described as "an encourager of students and staff who works enthusiastically to help her students and facilitators succeed in their classes."
Combs, who will receive the ACCESS Teacher of the Year Award, is described as being both a teacher and a mentor whose greatest attribute is "her flexibility and willingness to accommodate students' various needs."
Banks, who will receive the ACCESS Counselor of the Year Award, is recognized as a dedicated professional who has guided the growth of the Montgomery Public Schools' Virtual School. In the second year of the program, enrollment increased from 19 to 57 students.
ACCESS was launched on November 1, 2004. The distance education initiative offers opportunities for students in their local community schools that would not have been possible without a blended learning model that provides resources, connectivity, and professional development.
For the 2016-2017 school year, the Troy ACCESS Support Center employed 456 Teachers who taught 1,016 classes, serving 214 Schools and 11,715 individual students. By the end of summer school session, the center expects students served to number more than 14,000.