'Teacher of the Year' finalists announced

The six finalists for the Jefferson City Public Schools’ “Teacher of the Year” honors were announced Friday afternoon.

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From top left: Jeni DeFeo, Tonya Ellis, Aaron Gillam; Bottom: Elizabeth Milhollin, Debbie Strope, Ruthie Caplinger.

They are:

• Jeni DeFeo, social studies teacher, Thomas Jefferson Middle School.

• Tonya Ellis, library media specialist, East Elementary School.

• Aaron Gillam, social studies teacher, Jefferson City High School.

• Elizabeth Milhollin, third-grade teacher, Cedar Hill Elementary School.

• Debbie Strope, science teacher, Jefferson City High School.

• Ruthie Caplinger, EER (elementary gifted) teacher, Southwest Early Childhood Center.

A committee of parents and community leaders chose the six finalists from the group of teachers and staff member who applied after being nominated by parents, students, staff and community members.

Those nominations were taken from November through January, and nominees were sent letters seeking their applications.

Over the next few weeks, the parents and community leaders will interview the finalists, then determine the winners of the “Teacher of the Year” and the “Railton Award for Outstanding Teaching.”

There actually are two Railton Awards, one each for a secondary teacher and for an elementary teacher.

One of those also is named as the Teacher of the Year.

The winners will be announced April 28 during the annual Teacher Appreciation Banquet.

The district’s Teacher of the Year becomes a candidate for the state’s Teacher of the Year next fall, with the state winner becoming part of the national contest.

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