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And the Teacher of the Year goes to ...
Wyndi Whitlock does what every influential teacher should do: laugh, write and inspire. She's also a unique, stylish teacher who just happens to be the 2009 Yuma County teacher of the year.
Colleagues at her school such as Orange Grove Elementary's Principal Kim Seh, who knows her well, said she has an infectious enthusiasm that kids are drawn to.
"She is able to motivate the disinterested," Seh said. "She is part actress, storyteller and a sharp instructor."
A clearly nervous yet gracious Whitlock accepted her award on behalf of every great teacher whom she said she knew at the banquet. A record crowd of more than 850 filled the Civic Center for the 22nd Teacher of the Year banquet sponsored by the Rotary Clubs of Yuma and the Education Foundation of Yuma.
Whitlock received her bachelors degree from Virginia Tech and her masters degree from University of Phoenix, has been in education for five years and currently teaches 5th grade.
"It's obviously a great honor," Whitlock said. "I didn't expect it and I thought only that I'm very proud to represent all teachers here tonight."
Eve Scarff, chair of Teacher of the Year on behalf of the Rotary clubs of Yuma, said that teachers mold the community's children and they make a difference in their lives.
"The attention or praise a teacher gives a child may be the only attention that child receives in a day," Scarff said. "Not every teacher can be a finalist but all are important and all make a difference in a child's life."
Whitlock was only one of numerous teachers from across the county to be honored at the banquet Tuesday.
The teacher of the year was selected by judges from the Rotary, business and education communities.
The teacher of the year received a seven-day trip to Hawaii for two including airfare and accommodations, along with a $1,000 gift card from Best Buy, as well as three credit hours for classes at NAU-Yuma and a Paul Harris Fellowship from the Yuma Rotary Club.
She also will help select a student recipient of the Arizona Western College Presidential Teacher of the Year Scholarship. The scholarship will support two years of full-time attendance at AWC for a student who intends to become a teacher.
The outstanding first-year teacher was Katie Kelly of Yuma High School, received $1,000 cash from Horace Mann Insurance and three credit hours from NAU-Yuma.
People who made an outstanding contribution to the education community were also inducted into the Education Foundation of Yuma County Hall of Fame.
BANQUET AWARD WINNERS
Teacher of the Year - Wyndi Whitlock
Primary (K-3) Category Winner - Christina Sanderson, O.C. Johnson Elementary School
Intermediate (4-6) - Amanda Solomon, Gary Knox Elementary School
Junior High/Middle School - Laura Soto - Dateland Elementary School
High School - Daniel Michael Glynn, Yuma Catholic High School
K-6 Special Area - Patricia Moore, Gary Knox Elementary School
First Year Teacher - Katie Kelly, Yuma High School
Arizona Western College - Dr. Ian Watkinson
NAU-Yuma - Gerry Schmaedick, Dr. Glenn Hookstra
Education Foundation of Yuma County Hall of Fame Inductees
Professional Educator Award -Betty Lou Borland, Dr. Kenneth Borland, James Moody, Frank Irr
Outstanding Achievement Award - Barbara Moss
Frances Woodard Award - John Morales
Outstanding Organization Award - YumaCounty Chamber of Commerce
Estelle Dingus Award- Panfilo Contreras