Words and Images by Jenny Lynn Davis
In their regular meeting on Thursday, January 12, the Walker County Board of Education and Superintendent Dr. Dennis Willingham recognized two educators for notable achievements.
Amber Gilliland, a 7th grade math teacher at Bankhead Middle School, was recognized for exemplary dedication, and remarkable classroom performance, and perfect attendance in the first semester of the 2022-2023 school year. Gilliland returned to teaching at the beginning of the school year following a near-fatal battle with Covid-19.
“It’s an honor to be recognized after such a traumatic experience, not knowing if I’d be able to come back, and for the school system to support me so much and be willing to do whatever it took for me to come back,” said Gilliland. “Whether that was accommodating my being in a wheelchair to begin with or needing a microphone to project my weakened voice, they helped take care of everything I needed in order to come back to my students, and I will always be very appreciative of that.”
Corey Wilkes, a 6th grade STEM instructor at Bankhead Middle School was recognized for being a finalist in the running for the Presidential Award of Excellence in Math and Science Teaching. Wilkes is one of three finalists nationwide. The final selection for the recipient of the award will be made by President Biden over the coming months.
“I pride myself on working hard in the classroom, and I appreciate the nomination to apply for the award. The process of applying made me very reflective, and I encourage other principals in WC to nominate their teachers for this,” said Wilkes. “Even if I hadn’t been named a finalist, (the application process) sharpened me even more as a teacher, causing me to be a more reflective practitioner. The entire process has been awesome, and the opportunity to be able to win is butter on the bread.”
Willingham added that he and Wilkes, along with Bankhead Middle School Principal Amber Freeman, spent the morning in Montgomery for Wilkes to be honored at the Alabama Board of Education meeting.
“This is the third time this school year that Walker County Schools has been asked to stand before the Governor and State Superintendent to be recognized. It’s rare that a school system is asked once, much less three times in the same school year. That’s because of the folks we have working hard in our schools, they’re bringing us this recognition, and we’re thankful for that.”
Dr. Willingham also recognized school board members Brad Ingle, Trent Kennedy, Vonda Beaty, LeAnn Headrick, and Todd Vick as part of School Board Appreciation Month.
“We have a group of board members who love their schools and that really look out for the best interests of the students of Walker County,” said Willingham. “They look out for all the students in the Walker County School System, and they ensure that our students have the best opportunities for success of any students in the state of Alabama. As superintendent, that means a great deal to me, and I really appreciate our board members.”
- Additionally, the Walker County Board of Education recognized the following cheerleading teams for outstanding performance in the 2022-2023 school year.
- Bankhead Middle School – first place in Traditional Routine and second place in Gameday Routine at County Competition
- Carbon Hill High School – first place at AHSAA Central Super Regional
- Curry Middle School – first place at UCA Regionals and first place at County Competition
- Curry High School – first place at UCA Regional, second place at County Competition, second place in 4A Gameday Routine at State Regional
- Dora High School – first place at Space Center Regional, first place at AHSAA Super Regional, third place at AHSAA State Finals, three-peat first place champions at County Competition. The Dora High School cheer team will head to UCA National Competition in Orlando next month.
- The next Walker County Schools board meeting will take place on Thursday, February 9 at 4:30 p.m. in the board room, located on the second floor at 1710 Alabama Avenue, Jasper, AL 35501. WL