Dana Jacobson, who teaches speech and debate at Clay-Chalkville High school in the Jefferson County system, was named as the Alabama Teacher of the Year for 2016-17 at a ceremony in Montgomery May 11.  First alternate is Dawn Davis, an elementary teacher at Montana Street Academic Magnet School in the Dothan city system.

Jacobson has taught at Clay-Chalkville since 1999.  She remembers playing teacher as a child and knew early on that education was her life’s calling.  She believes, “Teachers are visionaries who see that light at the end of the tunnel and find ways to help students get to that light.”

As Teacher of the Year, Jacobson will leave her classroom for the next year to travel the state as an ambassador for public education and to take part in instructional development opportunities with schools.

Like Jacobson, Davis settled on her career as a teacher at an early age.  She was in the first grade at Rose Hill Elementary in Dothan when she told her mother she would one day be a teacher.  Davis says, “My greatest rewards from teaching come in the form of a smile.  When you see a smile cross the face of a child, you know they are gaining in knowledge.”

Jacobson and Davis were selected from a field of 16 district finalists in both secondary and elementary education.

The other 14 were: Kelly Cleere, Orange Beach Elementary, Baldwin County; Kathryne Flippo, Bluff Park Elementary, Hoover city; Mikki Powell, Rock Quarry Elementary, Tuscaloosa City; Dawn Ellis, Peter Crump Elementary, Montgomery County; Connie Bowman, Iola Roberts Elementary, Pell City; Sandy Ritchey, Crestline Elementary, Mountain Brook city; Nancy Brandon, Rainbow Elementary, Madison city; Judy Bridges, Baldwin County High, Baldwin County; Kathryn Enos, Enterprise High, Enterprise City; Vinny Chiaramonte, Bumpus Middle, Hoover city; Joseph Smith, III, Phillips Academy, Birmingham city; John Conway, BTW Magnet High, Montgomery County; Kate White, Guntersville High, Guntersville city and Carol Bohatch, James Clemens High, Madison city.

I have attended a number of these events.  Anyone who does is impressed with the dedication on display.  These teachers know that they have the rare opportunity each day in their classroom to mold the future of not only a child, but of this state and nation.  It is not something they take for granted.  Which accounts for the tears and emotions you see as the district winners talk about their schools and their students.

A special congratulations to Dana Jacobson and Dawn Davis for this unique recognition, as well as to the others recognized.  You make us proud.