Gulf County Schools Teacher of the Year selection Amber Jones, center, poses with Gulf County Superintendent Jim Norton, left, and Port St. Joe High School principal Sissy Godwin. [ Gulf County Schools | Contributed ]
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Gulf County Schools honor top teachers, staff

In a celebration of educational excellence, Gulf County Schools recently announced their Teacher of the Year and School-Related Employee of the Year, both chosen from an outstanding pool of educators and staff members from Port St. Joe and Wewahitchka elementary and high schools. 

Picked from faculties comprised of top-tier area teachers and support staff, those selected were honored for their exceptional contributions to student learning and development.

Amber Jones, a multi-subject technology teacher from Port St. Joe High School, earned the distinction of Teacher of the Year, while Ashley Forehand, school secretary at Wewahitchka High School, walked away with the School-Related Employee of the Year award.

Praised for her innovative methods, ability to inspire students, and commitment to professional growth, Jones stood out among a pool of exceptional Gulf County peers for her daily efforts inside and outside of the classroom.

Throughout the year, her colleagues and administration noted Jones’ exemplary skills in engaging her students, implementing effective teaching strategies, and fostering a positive learning environment. Furthermore, her dedication has not only impacted her students, but has often served as a source of inspiration for other educators in Gulf County.

“Amber is known and loved by her colleagues and students and is an incredible example of an educator and instructional leader,” Port St. Joe High School principal Sissy Godwin said.

Godwin also noted that Jones teaches Adobe Suite and gaming industry certification courses, as well as a course in digital design, in addition to serving as yearbook sponsor, senior class sponsor, and the school’s social media manager.

The selection process for the Teacher of the Year involved rigorous evaluation of teaching practices, classroom effectiveness, and contributions to the educational community.

Also nominated for Teacher of the Year from their respective schools were Alexandra Register of Port St. Joe Elementary School, Elizabeth Emerson of Wewahitchka Elementary School, and Stephanie Wade of Wewahitchka High School.

Bringing home the title of School-Related Employee of the Year was Wewahitchka High School front office secretary Ashley Forehand.

Known for her enthusiasm, work ethic, and interpersonal skills, Forehand is celebrated for exceeding all expectations with a smile on her face and taking pride in doing an outstanding job.

“Ashley single handedly changed the culture of our front office, which helped create the welcoming atmosphere we have at WHS,” said Wewahitchka principal Karen Shiver. “She is the best school secretary we could have ever asked for.”

Other nominees for the School-Related Employee of the Year honor included Elizabeth Davis of Port St. Joe Elementary School, LaWanda Smiley of Port St. Joe High School, Jessica Price of Wewahitchka High School, and Deborah Strange of the Maintenance and Transportation department.

Included in the Gulf County Schools annual honors was Misty Wood, who earned the Itinerant of the Year award, an honor given to the top district-level employee (speech therapist, literacy coach, etc.) within the various county schools.

Renee Lynn, assistant superintendent for Instruction for Gulf County Schools, released a statement regarding the award winners that noted “Gulf District Schools are fortunate to have highly-qualified and exceptional teachers and employees. Their hard work and diligence is reflected in the growth and success of our students. As a district, we would like to recognize the excellence seen every day in the classroom and at each work site by all of the winners.”

Meet the Editor

David Adlerstein, The Apalachicola Times’ digital editor, started with the news outlet in January 2002 as a reporter.

Prior to then, David Adlerstein began as a newspaperman with a small Boston weekly, after graduating magna cum laude from Brandeis University in Waltham, Massachusetts. He later edited the weekly Bellville Times, and as business reporter for the daily Marion Star, both not far from his hometown of Columbus, Ohio.

In 1995, he moved to South Florida, and worked as a business reporter and editor of Medical Business newspaper. In Jan. 2002, he began with the Apalachicola Times, first as reporter and later as editor, and in Oct. 2020, also began editing the Port St. Joe Star.

Wendy Weitzel The Star Digital Editor

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