Educators and school support staff from across Limestone County gathered Monday at the Limestone County Event Center to honor the district's employees of the year.

In the months leading up to the banquet, teachers and administrators from each school in the system nominated a favorite teacher, support staff member and bus driver. During the banquet, three different divisions of school employees were recognized — teachers, school employees who do not have a teacher's certificate and transportation and central office employees.

When Dr. Tom Sisk became superintendent of Limestone County Schools, he added the additional categories to the mix, giving support staff a chance to shine as well.

“I believe that the support staff play a critical role in the success of the school system,” Sisk said.

“If they don't do their job, our teachers cannot do their job. If we don't have bus drivers, our kids can't get to school. If we don't have CNP (Child Nutrition Program) staff, our kids don't eat. We need clerical staff to record data and make sure we have all documents in place to comply with the state. If the custodians don't keep the buildings clean, the health department will shut us down.”

Nearly 500 people work in support positions in the county school system.

During the catered dinner, districtwide selections for all three categories were announced. The winners included Larissa Dison, a first-grade teacher from Piney Chapel Elementary; Andrew Gentry, an English teacher from Clements High School; Sherri Graviet, the in-school suspension aide at Ardmore High School; and CNP Secretary Fay Shannon.

Dison and Gentry will go on to compete for the State of Alabama Teacher of the Year award for the 2018-2019 school year.

Alabama's teacher of the year serves as an ambassador for education and presents teaching workshops. The winner also becomes a candidate for the National Teacher of the Year award.

Dr. Brad Lewis, the executive director of curriculum for Limestone County Schools presented the awards as a packed house of friends and family cheered on the recipients.

“We appreciate everything they do for our children, regardless of the role they play in our school system,” Sisk said. “We want to recognize a job well-done.”

The News Courier will share information about the four individual winners in a future edition.