The votes are in… Rack Room Shoes is honoring five teachers from across the country as winners of its 2021 Teacher of the Year contest. The national competition called for customers to nominate teachers who have made a positive impact in their and their children’s lives and then let the public decide. The five teachers, among a field of 399 nominations, will receive a $10,000 grant for technology upgrades for their school. In addition, each teacher will receive a $500 Rack Room Shoes gift card.
“Now more than ever, educators are facing mounting challenges in their classrooms,” states Mark Lardie, president and CEO of Rack Room Shoes and Off Broadway Shoe Warehouse family chains that total 500-plus doors nationwide and are based in Charlotte, NC. “It is an honor to recognize exceptional teachers through our Teacher of the Year program and support them through donations to their schools. We hope this recognition will help exceptional teachers continue to inspire students and impact their communities in positive ways.”
The five winning teachers and their respective schools are listed below, along with an excerpt from their submissions.
Sou Lee, John Muir Elementary School, Merced, CA: I believe that when you see something good in someone, you should let them know. I have seen the impact Mr. Lee has had in my son’s life and enlightening him. He makes every student feel special by taking his time and acknowledging their strengths, and encouraging them to try their best.
Jessica Onyegam, Sunset Valley Elementary, Austin, TX: Ms. Onyegam focuses on teaching the whole child. In addition to supporting their academic learning, she helps students develop character and compassion. She teaches students about the wonderful differences (and similarities) between people and cultures, and she encourages our children to advocate for themselves and others.
Amanda Simpson, West Alexander Middle School, Taylorsville, NC: Mrs. Simpson makes a genuine connection with her students. She made me feel safe, more confident and pushed me to be more than I could have ever imagined. She is there to support us no matter what we are doing. She is always in our corner.
Isaiah Stanley, Lumberton Junior High School, Lumberton, NC: Mr. Stanley is an awesome math teacher, has a passion and drive for his students, and goes over and beyond his duties to ensure our school and students receive the best education possible. He holds training to assist our team with technology implementation while guiding new and veteran staff on how to use new programs and software.
Kelly Winovich, Northgate Middle/High Schools, Pittsburg, PA: Mrs. Winovich has a unique way of communicating and relating to her students and serves as a passionate mentor to all students. As an art teacher, she sees the vulnerable side of students that they aren’t always able to express at home or in other academic settings. She knows that her position is unique, and she uses those opportunities to nurture and encourage students to continue and persevere.
From left: West Alexander Middle School Principal Jacob Lail, Amanda Simpson (Teacher of the Year Award winner), Rack Room Shoes Regional Manager T Clark, nominator Hailey Mosteller and Rack Room Shoes Store Manager April Miller.