Four local teachers inducted into Educator’s Hall of Fame

Published 12:01 am Tuesday, April 28, 2015

NW0428 Teachers Hall of Fame C

Four teachers, two from the Carter County School System and two from the Elizabethton City School System, were inducted into the Carter County Imagination Library Educators Hall of Fame during the a celebration dinner Saturday night.

The event recognized Tommy Jenkins and the late Richard Winters from Carter County schools and Ronnie Taylor and the late Harold Ellis from the city schools.

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Jenkins taught with the Carter County school system for 38 years. He received his degree from Milligan College and attended classes at East Tennessee State University and Cumberland University.

Jenkins started his teaching career at Little Milligan Elementary before moving to Valley Forge Elementary, where he taught third, fourth and fifth grade and physical education. He also served as assistant principal. Jenkins retired in 2010.

Jenkins led the school’s drama program and ran Valley Forge’s “Country Store,” using students from the gifted program. He also started the school’s daily BINGO program.

“Mr. Jenkins made students feel special about themselves by joking with them or by simply giving them a nickname,” host Josh Smith said, reading from a nomination form. “Mr. Jenkins was a master teacher. He made the hard work of learning fun.”

Winters had 28 years of experience in education, all with the Carter County schools. Winters attended Shell Creek Elementary, Cloudland High School and ETSU, where he received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees.

Winters served as English teacher, assistant principal and principal at CHS; principal at Hampton Elementary Schools, honors English teacher and principal at Hampton High School and elementary supervisor and curriculum supervisor for the Carter County Schools’ central office. Winters also served on the Carter County Commission and the Carter County Board of Education.

“Mr. Winters was a great motivator and encourager, working hard to ensure students received the best education to prepare them for the future,” Smith said. “He loved his family, he loved to read and he loved children. He was a friend to the community. Mr. Winters lent his talents to projects within the county that he believed would improve the quality of life in what he deemed the most beautiful place on Earth.”

Winters passed away in December 2014.

Taylor has 38 years of teaching experience, with 16 years in the Elizabethton City Schools. Taylor graduated from Unaka High School, and attended King University, where he received his bachelor’s degree and ETSU, where he received his master’s degree.

Taylor started his career at Unaka High School as a teacher and basketball and baseball coach. He then served as principal at Unaka Elementary. He then moved to the city school system and became principal of East Side Elementary. When he retired he was assistant director of the ECS system.

Taylor started the Key Club at UHS, the K-Kids and Odyssey of the Mind competition at East Side and is a deacon at Calvary Baptist Church.

“Mr. Taylor was not only a wonderful principal, he was a champion educator,” Smith said. “He loved the students and showed compassion, integrity and love to all. To the children, he was kind and fair, yet firm and respected. He knew their names and he knew their parents, and he knew what car they should be getting in at the end of their day.”

Ellis had 19 years of teaching experience, all of those in the ECS teaching 7th-grade life science at T.A. Dugger Junior High School. Ellis graduated from Elizabethton High School and received two bachelor’s degrees from ETSU.

Ellis, who died in 2001, was also a baseball and basketball coach and was the first educator to be certified by the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency to teach hunter safety in a junior high curriculum. Ellis was a baseball coach at EHS, a basketball coach at T.A. Dugger, sponsor of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes and a deacon at Fairview Baptist Church.

“Mr. Ellis made me want to be a better student, because I felt accountable to a teacher for the first time,” Smith said, quoting a nomination. “He knew how to motivate different personalities. He simply was the most personable teacher I had.”

The dinner also marked the 10th anniversary of the Carter County Imagination Library, which sends a free book each month to every registered child in Carter County from birth to 5 years old.

“It takes an incredible amount of commitment at the local level to make this happen,” Smith said. “The Imagination Library board works hard to make sure we raise the money we need to provide the books to these children.”

Smith recognized Dale Fair and Bill Armstrong, who worked together with the Kiwanis Club to help get the CCIL started.

CCIL Foundation Members who have been a part of the Imagination Library for all 10 years were recognized with plaques presented by Julia Calhoun and Emush Lamb, both 10 years old and a member of the first group of children to receive books from the CCIL.

Foundation members recognized at the dinner were Carter County Bank, the Carter County Commission, the Carter County Car Club, Citizens Bank, the City of Elizabethton, Elizabethton Federal Savings Bank, the Elizabethton Kiwanis Club, the Friends of the Library, Northeast Community Credit Union, Snap-On Tools Community Involvement Club, Speedway Children’s Charities and Summers-Taylor Inc.