Poplar Bluff Teachers of the year honored

Poplar Bluff Teachers of the year honored

POPLAR BLUFF, MO (KFVS) - The Poplar Bluff R-1 School District have honored some Teachers of the Year.

Science Department chairwoman Gail Karlish of Senior High was named the 2014 Teacher of the Year during the annual TOY Luncheon recently held in the Missouri Room of the Administrative Building.

Having served 29 years in education, 24 at Poplar Bluff High School, four at a parochial school and one year for the Missouri Division of Youth Services, Karlish is known by her colleagues as a mentor of both new and seasoned teachers. For R-I schools, she is an Academic Team Coach and a Capturing Kids' Hearts Process Champion. Outside of school Karlish is very active at Midland Church, where she serves as praise leader and musician.

"I hope we can replicate this lady as many times as [possible]," said PBHS Principal Mike Kiehne.

Karlish was also named the Secondary Grade Span and the Senior High TOY, and was later honored by the Greater Poplar Bluff Area Chamber of Commerce.


Fifth grade math and reading instructor Joan Lack of the Poplar Bluff Fifth and Sixth Grade Center was named the Middle School Grade Span TOY.

An educator of nearly 14 years, Lack has taught at 5/6 since 2002. Prior to that she served as a teacher's aide at the Poplar Bluff Kindergarten Center, a self-contained instructor at 5/6 and a sixth grade teaching intern for the Ladue School District. She is currently a Professional Learning Community leader and facilitator. She also serves as a basketball and soccer coach.

Principal Charles Brown of 5/6 simply described Lack's work in the classroom as "awesome," adding she has a way of keeping students engaged. Lack was also named the 5/6 TOY and was later honored by the Chamber of Commerce.


Second grade instructor Jeannie Isom of O'Neal Elementary was named the Elementary Grade Span TOY.

An educator since 1999—having previously taught second grade and kindergarten—Isom is currently piloting the successful Math in Focus program at the elementary school. For years she has served as St. Jude coordinator, yearbook co-editor and Girl Scout leader. She is actively involved in her church, Palace of Praise, where she helps with the Kingdom Kids program and volunteers in the nursery.

O'Neal Principal Angie Rideout described Isom's teaching method as "exciting." Isom was also named the O'Neal TOY and was later honored by the Chamber of Commerce.


Cosmetology instructor Amanda Plunk was named the Poplar Bluff Technical Career Center TOY. Plunk has worked at the TCC for two and a half years, and in education since 2005.

TCC Director Charles Kinsey joked how a "math problem doesn't become upset with you if you mess up," as opposed to a client getting a haircut from a student in practice.


Social studies instructor Josh Wesemann was named the Poplar Bluff Junior High School TOY. He began his teaching career in 2007 and transferred to R-I schools the following year.

"People look up to him already," PBJHS Principal Bob Case said.


Special education instructor Courtney Rutledge was named the Oak Grove TOY. Since 2004, Rutledge has worked throughout the district, including Eugene Field and the Kindergarten Center.

Oak Grove Principal Jenifer Richardson commented that she has learned some tips about raising her own children from Rutledge's methods.


Second grade instructor Chelsea Smith was named the Lake Road TOY. Beginning as a substitute teacher at the Fifth and Sixth Grade Center in 2008, Smith was hired at the elementary school the following year.

Lake Road Principal Erica Weadon stated Smith is known for having the "patience of a saint."


Fourth grade instructor Pam Heaton was named the Eugene Field TOY. Heaton has served various positions throughout the school district since 2000. Prior, she taught at Greenville and was the manufacturing training coordinator for Gates Rubber.

Heaton is known for "making math work," Eugene Field Principal Jennifer Taylor stated.


Special education instructor Shelly Johnson was named the Poplar Bluff Kindergarten Center TOY. Johnson began at the Kindergarten Center in 2012, having worked for Clearwater for several years prior.

Kindergarten Principal Carol Metz pointed out that Johnson was also a TOY nominee last year.


Instructor of 4-year-olds, Lori Bell, was named the Poplar Bluff Early Childhood Center TOY. Bell began with R-I this school year, but has variously taught at Centerville, Southern Reynolds and Clearwater since 1991.

According to ECC Principal JoAnne Westbrook, Bell was Clearwater's TOY last year.

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