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DCHS Educator Britney Gulley Named 2021 DeKalb School District Teacher of the Year

April 13, 2021
By: Dwayne Page

The 2021 DeKalb County School District Teacher of the Year is Britney Gulley, a chemistry and ACT prep teacher at DeKalb County High School.

Gulley got a surprise visit to her classroom Tuesday for the “John Isabell Memorial Award” presentation by Director of Schools Patrick Cripps, DCHS Principal Randy Jennings, DCHS Assistant Principal Jenny Norris, and Supervisors of Instruction Michelle Burklow and Dr. Kathy Bryant.

As part of the honor, Gulley also received a school bell award, a floral arrangement, and a certificate granting her a day off from school.

“I have wanted to be a teacher for a long time and its an honor to know that my colleagues think that much of me to have nominated and voted for me. Its an exciting moment in my life. I love what I do every day and I love these kids. I also love the fact that I got to go to college and come back and be a part of the education system that gave so much to me when I was here,” said Gulley.

“Britney is a special person to me, said Director Cripps. She is one of my former students when I was in the administration here at the high school and its great to see her having grown up not only personally but professionally. She has been accepted into the state’s aspiring assistant principal network and we are excited that she wants to go into that program to broaden her career horizons. She would be a great administrator. Britney is very smart, personable, a hard worker, and dedicated to her students,” said Director Cripps.

“One day I would like to be an administrator and become a principal to lead not only the kids but my colleagues as well. I have also considered maybe sometime in the distant future becoming a professor of education at some point,” said Gulley.

Gulley, who is in her sixth year as a teacher, was among five local educators who were recognized this week for being chosen by peers as “Teacher of the Year” at their schools. The others were second grade teacher Janet Trapp at Smithville Elementary School; eighth grade ELA (English Language Arts) teacher Galen Brown at DeKalb Middle School; Allison Collier, a third grade ELA and ESL (English as a Second Language) teacher at Northside Elementary School; and Martha Damron, a seventh grade math and science teacher at DeKalb West School.

In addition to the visit to Gulley, Director Cripps and other school administrators paid a call on Damron and Collier at their classrooms Tuesday and stopped in to see Trapp and Brown on Monday to present their school level “Teacher of the Year awards along with floral arrangements, school bells , and certificates granting them a day off from school.

This is the 14th annual Teacher of the Year observance. An awards banquet, which has always commemorated the event, was not held this year due to COVID-19 concerns.

Damron is an eighteen year educator at DeKalb West School. “I feel like every teacher here deserves this award but its an honor for me to have been chosen Teacher of the Year on the school level at DeKalb West,” said Damron.

Collier is in her sixth year as a teacher at Northside Elementary School. “It feels amazing to be Teacher of the Year on the school level here. I am very blessed to have had these students now and in the past and even though this year has been challenging we have made the best of it. I am so happy to work here,” said Collier.

Brown, a veteran teacher of twelve years, has had two stints as an educator. For the first six years of her career Brown taught third and fifth grades in the Warren County School System before taking a job as a third grade teacher at DeKalb West School for a year. Brown then took ten years off from teaching to raise two children before returning to the profession at DeKalb Middle School, a position she has held now for five years. “ Being a teacher is incredibly rewarding but I was stunned to have been named Teacher of the Year on the school level here because I work with some amazing people. But honestly that is one of the things that helps teachers think maybe they are doing the right thing. I very much appreciate this honor,” said Brown.

Trapp has been a teacher for twenty nine years. “I first started out at DeKalb West School where I taught four years. I moved here at Smithville Elementary and taught second grade for a few years and then I was a kindergarten teacher for about 19 years before teaching pre-K for a year and now I am back as a second grade teacher here at Smithville Elementary although kindergarten is probably where my heart is. I am very honored to have been named Teacher of the Year on the school level because there are so many good teachers out there and for them to name me is a very special feeling,” said Trapp.

Dr. Kathy Bryant, Supervisor of Instruction for Grades 6-12, said the School System Teacher of the Year can choose to compete at the District and Region level with hopes of vying for the state title.

“Teachers are first nominated and voted upon within each school for Teacher of the Year by their peers at the school level. Once a teacher is identified as Teacher of the Year he or she can apply to be District and Region Teacher of the Year and can go from there to the state. That consists of basically selling themselves and talking about everything they have done throughout their whole career to be deserving of Teacher of the Year. Its actually a lot of work. Sometimes we have teachers that do not wish to compete. They are very happy with being Teacher of the Year at their school. Regardless we are proud of our Teachers of the Year and would put them up against anybody but when they are able to compete regionally and at the state level that is big,” said Dr. Bryant.

City supports return of the Smithville Fiddlers Jamboree and Crafts Festival July 2 & 3

April 13, 2021
By: Dwayne Page

The Smithville Fiddlers’ Jamboree will be returning for its 50th anniversary this year
The festival is set for Friday and Saturday, July 2 & 3.

Although the City of Smithville is not required to give permission for the event to take place, the Jamboree Committee recently asked the mayor and aldermen for their continued support. Safety measures will be taken by the Jamboree to protect the public as COVID-19 remains a concern.

During a special meeting Thursday night (April 8) the aldermen adopted the following resolution:

“Whereas, the Smithville Fiddlers Jamboree has been an intregral part of the Fourth of July festivities for a number of years; and

Whereas, the Jamboree Committee has asked that the City voice its support for said Smithville Fiddlers Jamboree; and

Now therefore, be it resolved by the Board of Mayor and Aldermen of the City of Smithville that:

The City of Smithville and its elected Mayor and Board of Aldermen are in support of the Smithville Fiddlers Jamboree with the understanding that the Jamboree Committee shall follow all State Health Department and CDC guidelines for the health and welfare of the public attending said Smithville Fiddlers Jamboree”

Another Fatal Head-On Crash

April 13, 2021
By: Dwayne Page

Another head-on crash in DeKalb County has claimed a life.

42 year old Thomas Higginbotham of Silver Point died after being flown by helicopter ambulance to Vanderbilt Hospital in Nashville Monday afternoon.

Trooper Brandon Johnson of the THP said Higginbotham was north on Highway 56 near Silver Point in a 1990 Ford Ranger as 39 year old Eric D. Fish, driving a 2015 Chevy Traverse, was heading south.

According to Trooper Johnson, Fish crossed into the path of Higginbotham and the crash occurred as both drivers swerved trying to avoid a collision.

Fish and his wife and son, 40 year old Janet Fish and 20 year old Derek Fish were all injured. Trooper Johnson said Mrs. Fish was airlifted by helicopter ambulance to Skyline Medical Center while Mr. Fish and his son were transported by DeKalb EMS to Cookeville Regional Medical Center.

Members of the DeKalb County Volunteer Fire Department’s extrication and rescue team responded with backup support from the Smithville Volunteer Fire Department. A Putnam County firefighter/paramedic, who was passing by stopped to help render assistance.

The fatal crash came one week after 18 year old Cassie Maxwell of Alexandria lost her life in a two vehicle wreck on Highway 70 between Dowelltown and Liberty.

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