By KEITH RYAN CARTWRIGHT
Rutherford County Schools
It’s an understatement to say a lot has changed in the 40 years since Frank Cathey graduated from Madison (Tenn.) High School.
Cathey has been an educator with Rutherford County Schools for the past 25 years and he’s been in his present position as an Informational Technology instructor at LaVergne High School for 16 years.
The technology courses have drastically changed during that time.
But for Cathey it’s far more personal.
Unlike the encouragement students receive in his and other classrooms throughout the district, Cathey has not forgotten the lack of encouragement he received as a high school student.
“My high school guidance counselor told me that I had no business going to college and I just needed to find a job,” he recalled. “I worked as many as four jobs while going to college, and it took me nine years to get my bachelors (degree). Then two more to get my master’s. Both in education.”
Cathey is one of three teachers selected to represent Rutherford County Schools in the state competition for Teachers of the Year.
Cathey was chosen as the districtwide high school teacher of the year, while Lesley Janet North was selected as the middle school level and Jennifer Walker as the elementary level teachers of the year.
North is an eighth-grade math teacher at Rockvale Middle School and Walker is a kindergarten readiness instructor at Brown’s Chapel Elementary.
“Other than this honor, my greatest achievement is that I have shared the adventure and fun of learning with over 200 children while ensuring my students knew they were safe and loved,” said Walker, who has been at Brown’s Chapel for nine years, “and empowering them to think big and achieve big.”
North enjoys getting thank you cards from former students “when they realize the role I played in their lives regarding teaching them math as well as being a mentor.”
This year’s RCS Teachers of the Year reception will take place March 14 beginning at 3:30 p.m. at the Embassy Suites.
The following is a list of all 47 Teachers of the Year. The top district-level teachers, who will represent Rutherford County Schools in the state competition, are in bold.
- Barfield Elementary: Jason Eaton
- Blackman Elementary: Stacy Pinson
- Blackman High: Col. Gary Spry
- Blackman Middle: Shawn Blakeney Lee
- Brown’s Chapel Elementary: Jennifer Walker (Elementary Level Teacher of the Year)
- Buchanan Elementary: Stephanie Olivia Forst
- Cedar Grove Elementary: Jody O’Neal Wrather
- Central Magnet: Marcia Angelyn Pigg
- Christiana Elementary: Jaime York
- Christiana Middle: Melynda Whitaker
- Daniel McKee: Beth Elam
- David Youree Elementary: Jessica Trice
- Eagleville: Wendy Rae Hicks
- Holloway High: Justin Spurlock
- H.P. Campus: Lorine Nolan
- John Colemon Elementary: Kacie Barlow Byrd
- Kittrell Elementary: Emily Butler
- Lascassas Elementary: Bonni L. Smith
- LaVergne High: Frank Cathey (Secondary Level Teacher of the Year)
- LaVergne Lake: Deneille Polk
- LaVergne Middle: Christina Manley
- LaVergne Primary: Tracey Abernathy
- McFadden School of Excellence: Sara R. Puffer
- Oakland High: Sarah Elizabeth Howes-Masnik
- Oakland Middle: Carol Warren
- Riverdale High: Michael Aymett
- Rock Springs Elementary: Kasey Polatka
- Rock Springs Middle: April Walters
- Rockvale Elementary: Alberto Ortiz
- Rockvale Middle: Lesley Janet North (Middle Level Teacher of the Year)
- Rocky Fork Middle: Andrew Gannon
- Roy Waldron Elementary: Trina Walker
- Siegel High: Joseph Bowker
- Siegel Middle: Karen Yung
- Smyrna Elementary: Christina Stuible
- Smyrna High: Emily Johnson
- Smyrna Middle: Amanda K. Hodges
- Smyrna Primary: Jennifer Winters
- Smyrna West: Laura L. Schlesinger
- Stewarts Creek Elementary: Olivia Bledsoe
- Stewarts Creek High: Brian Howard
- Stewarts Creek Middle: Henry Charles Mitchell
- Stewartsboro Elementary: Katie York
- Thurman Francis Arts Academy: Hillary Stephens
- Walter Hill Elementary: Lindsey Stephens
- Whitworth-Buchanan Middle: Suzanne Agee
- Wilson Elementary: Amy Gammon