Teacher of the year nominees


Ananya Sirigneedi

The results are in! Seven of Independence’s teachers have been nominated for the Independence “Teacher of the Year” award. 

The nominees are as follows:

  • Stephanie Cameron
  • Dr. Kristen Carroll
  • Perry Jason
  • Thomas Ray
  • Linda Riley
  • Debbie Venteicher
  • Emily Woodard

The teachers were nominated by their fellow staff members, based on multiple factors, such as representation of the student body, representation of culture, most importantly on their ability to make a positive impact on their students and fellow staff members.

“I was shocked, I really was,” AP Literature teacher Thomas Ray said, “But it was like a confirmation for me that I’m doing something right, and I love what I do every day, so I’m glad that others see how much I love and enjoy it.” 

Ray reflected on his time here at IHS, on what encourages him to do his job.

“I am so encouraged by the quality of students I meet on a daily basis,” Ray said. “Not just in my classroom. Students I meet in the hallways, students I meet in club meetings, students I meet in the library, students that just pop in during activity period. I am really encouraged by what I’m seeing, and what I get to encounter on a day-to-day basis, and it just keeps me going.”

English and GT Humanities teacher Linda Riley expands on the honor of being nominated for by her staff members, and how it affects the way she feels about her job here at IHS.

“To be nominated among so many teachers that I hold in high regard and look up to is an amazing honor,” Riley said. “It’s incredibly re-affirming, I do my best to be the person that I want to be and continue to work towards the person I want to become. So many people on this campus are people that I look to, to be role models. Especially after the last couple of years that we’ve had, the period that we’re still living through. [I have had] the opportunity to stop and validate that I am being the person that I want to be for students [and] my co-workers.” 

The winner is selected through a google form, where staff members can vote on the nominee of their choice. The google form includes pictures of the nominee, a brief message from themselves about how they feel about being nominated, and a few words from other staff members about the nominee.

The winner then receives a gift from the IHS staff, such as a candy bouquet, a surprise visit from the staff members during one of their classes, where they get to celebrate their achievements with their students.

From there, they advance on to the district level of “Teacher of The Year” where, according to last year’s winner and AP Environmental Science teacher Dina Edwards, they submit recommendation letters to the district. 

Many co-workers care deeply about all the nominees, so they are sure that any winner is the right choice.

The winner will be revealed Wednesday, Nov. 3,

“I care about [the students’] future,” Ray said, “I’m here because I’m trying to shape the next generation of leaders, and I think we have them right here at IHS.”