Valdosta North Rotary Hosts 2016 Annual Teacher of the Year Banquet

| September 15, 2016

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VALDOSTA – It has been said that a teacher affects eternity; they can never tell where their influence stops. To recognize the countless hours teachers devote to teaching and positively influencing students in the classroom, Valdosta North Rotary started the Teacher of the Year Banquet in 2013 to honor the outstanding Teacher of the System for both the Lowndes County and Valdosta City School Systems, as well as the Teacher of the Year from all the respective City and County Schools.

This year Staff Sergeant Keni Thomas will be the keynote speaker at the Valdosta North Rotaries’ fourth annual Teacher of the Year Banquet. His story is one of true valor. In the summer of 1993 Staff Sergeant Thomas was deployed to Mogadishu Somalia with the 3rd Ranger Battalion as part of an elite special operations package called Task Force Ranger. Their mission was to find and capture a criminal warlord named Mohammed Farrah Aidid. On the 3rd of October, Keni and his fellow rangers distinguished themselves in an eighteen hour fire-fight that would later be recounted in the highly successful book and movie “Blackhawk Down”. Nineteen Americans gave their lives and 78 were wounded in the worst urban combat seen by US troops since WWII. Staff Sergeant Thomas is the recipient of the Bronze Star for Valor. He is a graduate of the University of Florida.

The Teacher of the Year Banquet will be held October 4, 2016, at the Valdosta State University Student Union Ballroom, with dinner starting promptly at 6:15pm. The goal for the event is simple: to celebrate, honor, and support our public school educators in the Lowndes County and Valdosta City School Systems.

To ensure the success of this year’s celebration, Valdosta North Rotary is looking for businesses and organizations to help sponsor this event honoring the bestloved and most highly-renowned classroom teachers in Valdosta and Lowndes County. Generous support from the community is needed to make this event spectacular!

“Sponsorship opportunities begin at a financially-friendly $125 level and peak at the Master Sponsor level of $2500,” explains Heather Ferguson, Valdosta North Rotary TOTY Banquet Chair. “This event has been extremely well-received over the past three years and we have raised around $150,000 to benefit local teachers and classrooms. We welcome participation at all levels including in-kind gifts.

In 2015, twenty-two Teachers of the Year, one from each city and county school, received $1,000 each to spend on their classroom projects. Each Teacher of the Year also received $200 cash, $200 Steels Jewelry gift certificate, and a complimentary wine tasting party. The Lowndes and Valdosta City Teacher of the System also received additional $500 cash, Lenovo laptop from Nexxtep, a diamond pendant from Steels Jewelry, Wild Adventures field trip for their class and 6 chaperones, which included admission and lunch, and a YMCA family membership. Also, Langdale Honda/Kia graciously provided a car for the two Teachers of the Systems to use for a year as well as free gas and insurance.

Ferguson said, “It has been amazing to see the support from our community. Everyone is willing to give generously to support our teachers. Valdosta North Rotary’s goal is to inspire good teachers by recognizing his or her accomplishments. Through support and recognition of school system successes, we help propel the Lowndes County and Valdosta City Schools forward and continue their mission of becoming two of the top school systems in Georgia.

For organizations that want to support our teachers and schools but cannot attend the event, Ferguson welcomes them to sponsor a table for teachers or a particular school. Many organizations purchase tables and allow the teachers to attend. For more information, contact Heather Ferguson at 229-293-1125 or Bob Harrison at 229-2441436.

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