Freedom Intermediate, Johnson Elementary instructors named top teachers in FSSD

Freedom Intermediate, Johnson Elementary instructors named top teachers in FSSD

PHOTO: FSSD Teachers of the Year are (from left) Denise Beaman, Sherrie Anderson, Jamie Betts, Eli Adams, Mary Clay Estes, Jennifer Alvarado, Heather Soder and Dinah Wade. // Photo by John McBryde


A library/media specialist and a kindergarten teacher were named as Middle Grades and Elementary Teachers of the Year Monday night at the shortened Franklin Special School District Board of Education meeting.

Dinah Wade, who has been teaching for 15 years and has been library/media specialist at Freedom Intermediate School for the past five years, was honored as Middle Grade Teacher of the Year. Heather Soder, a nine-year teaching veteran who has spent the last seven as a kindergarten teacher at Johnson Elementary, was chosen as Elementary Teacher of the Year.

Each was awarded $500 from Cornerstone Financial Credit Union, which has demonstrated its support of the district’s mission of “Excellence in Teaching and Learning for All” for the past nine years.

“I really love working with kids in all capacities, but I also love all the teachers in the building,” Wade said. “And being in the library media center allows me to collaborate with the students and the teachers.”

Wade’s library space runs the gamut on what it might resemble. Depending on the day, it can look like a robotics lab, a computer lab, a science room and a shop class. Wade is currently training teachers in coding as part of the Science for All initiative.

When she isn’t teaching, Wade also spends her time as a volunteer firefighter with the Williamson County Rescue Squad.

“My husband got me into it,” she said. “He was volunteering when we were dating, and I thought if I’m going to be around, I may as well help too. I like to help with the community and help in their time of need.”

Soder is like a student magnet, as her kindergartners hang on to her every word. She attributes her students’ growth to the strong bonds she builds and the relationships that the children share with one another as well as with her.

“The culture of my classroom is founded on love, trust, passion and hard work,” Soder said. “My goal is to create an environment that promotes a love of learning so my students are excited to come to school, demonstrate caring for their classmates, and strive to learn and grow each day.”

Building-level Teachers of the Year were also honored:

Franklin Elementary — Jennifer Alvarado, art teacher

Liberty Elementary — Mary Clay Estes, kindergarten teacher

Moore Elementary — Eli Adams, music teacher

Poplar Grove Elementary — Jamie Betts, second grade teacher

Poplar Grove Middle — Sherri Anderson, seventh grade teacher

Freedom Middle — Denise Beaman, seventh grade math

Each received $100 from Cornerstone Financial.

FSSD board members will meet again Thursday morning in a special-called meeting.

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