published Sunday, January 22nd, 2012

New award program to honor Hamilton County public school leaders

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    Hamilton County Schools Superintendent Rick Smith speaks to the media in this file photo.
    Photo by Jenna Walker.
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Nominations for the Excellence in Public Education awards may be submitted by teachers, administrators, support staff, parents, students or former students. Self-nominations are not permitted. Nomination forms should be submitted by 4 p.m. April 10.

Nominations can be made online at

Hamilton County public school teachers, administrators and support staff will be honored this spring in a new award program intended to highlight top-performing educators.

The 2011-12 Excellence in Public Education awards, presented by the Hamilton County Department of Education, the Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce and the Chattanooga Times Free Press, are intended to encourage and recognize efforts and successes, officials said.

"The way this is being crafted, it's going to be a big deal. It is going to be quite exciting for our employees," said Hamilton County Schools Superintendent Rick Smith. "What is does is accentuates the positives of [school workers] who are having an impact on thousands of kids."

Three finalists will be selected at the high school, middle school and elementary school levels, then a top teacher in each group will be selected by a committee of representatives from the school system, the Chamber and the Times Free Press.

Those three teachers then will compete for the title of Teacher of the Year.

"We know the education system will be producing the future leaders of Hamilton County," said Lyndsi Sebastian, marketing manager at the Times Free Press.

Other awards will be given for excellence in administration and support staff such as clerical, janitorial and cafeteria employees. An outstanding alumnus, along with community and corporate school supporters, also will be honored.

All nominees will be invited to attend a banquet in their honor at the Chattanoogan hotel on May 21.

about Joan Garrett McClane...

Joan Garrett McClane has been a staff writer for the Times Free Press since August 2007. Before becoming a general assignment writer for the paper, she wrote about business, higher education and the court systems. She grew up the oldest of five sisters near Birmingham, Ala., and graduated with a master's and bachelor's degrees in journalism from the University of Alabama. Before landing her first full-time job as a reporter at the Times Free Press, ...

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