HC Excell, MUS honor 3 Hamblen County teachers

HC*Excell, Hamblen County’s Education Foundation, in partnership with Morristown Utilities and the Hamblen County Board of Education, recognized three of its outstanding teachers last Friday, Feb. 16, 2024.

Ms. Tara Phillips of Morristown Hamblen High School West, Mr. Alfonso Jerezano-Villegas of Hillcrest Elementary, and Mr. Gene Lynch of Meadowview Middle School, were recognized for winning the “Teacher of the Year” from all the selected winning teachers in Hamblen County.

We are tremendously excited to continue the tradition of HC*Excell by recognizing and rewarding outstanding teachers in Hamblen County. On behalf of our Board of Directors, the family of the late Senator Herbert S. Walters, who established this fund for this purpose, and our staff, we are thrilled to recognize these three teachers for their outstanding service to our community and to the students and schools they serve,” stated Ms. Amy Steisslinger, Board Chair for HC*Excell. “Like always we are thrilled to partner with Morristown Utilities in this worthy endeavor,” Steisslinger added. “Teacher support and recognition is one of our core programs and we want to thank all those who are supporters of HC*Excell for allowing us to honor and recognize those teachers who have been selected by their peers and their school system for their outstanding work in pre-K to 12 education,” Steisslinger added.

Morristown Utilities is honored to be a long-time partner and supporter of HC*Excell. Morristown is a community that has thrived on industrial and economic development over the years. A key factor in our ability to recruit outstanding companies and enable our local economy to grow is to have an excellent school system and educators. Teachers play a critical role in preparing students for future success. Our job is to support and help build that relationship,” stated Stan Greene, Marketing & Public Relations Director for Morristown Utilities. “With HC*Excell, we will be displaying a billboard in Morristown honoring these three teachers to show our appreciation for their hard work and dedication to their students in the classroom.”

Joining Ms. Steisslinger, Mr. Greene, and Daryl Brady, Executive Director of HC*Excell, was Arnold Bunch, Director of Hamblen County Schools as they visited each teacher at their school to present them with a crystal, engraved apple from East Tennessee Diamond Company; a $500 check to each teacher, and a mini replica of the billboard that will be displayed in Morristown.

The success of our school system is dependent upon what happens in the classroom between the teachers and the students, and we are fortunate to have outstanding teachers in Hamblen County. Teachers face immense challenges in today’s environment, and for our school system to continue to improve and thrive, we must continue to not only recruit great teachers, but also retain talented teachers, who have that unique ability to instruct and inspire our students. The Hamblen County School Board and I recognized these three outstanding teachers at one of our previous school board meetings, but to have organizations in our community recognize them as well, means a lot to our teachers and our whole community of instructors in our school system,” Bunch stated.

Recognized were Ms. Tara Phillips, the 9-12 winner, who teaches at Morristown West, Mr. Gene Lynch, who teaches science at Meadowview Middle School and the 5-8 winner was Mr. Alfonso Jerezano-Villegas, who teaches at Hillcrest Elementary. Each winner was joined by their respective principals, Mr. Jeff Kinsler, Morristown Hamblen High School West; Mr. Kristen Brockman, Principal, of Meadowview Middle; and Ms. Paula Davis, Principal of Hillcrest Elementary.