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home : news : education May 21, 2022

5/13/2022 2:18:00 PM
Lincoln County Schools Recognizes 'Of the Year' Winners
Rachel Frye is the 2022 Teacher of the Year.
Rachel Frye is the 2022 Teacher of the Year.
Katie Hardin was named Volunteer of the Year.
All photos courtesy of Karen Dellinger, Lincoln County Schools

Katie Hardin was named Volunteer of the Year.

All photos courtesy of Karen Dellinger, Lincoln County Schools

+ view more photos

Lincoln County Schools
Press Release


At the Tuesday (May 10th) Board of Education meeting, the Lincoln County School Board recognized the 'Of the Year' winners for the 2021-2022 school year.  Each of the winners was surprised the previous Wednesday (May 4th) with a basket filled with items donated from local businesses.  In addition, Chris Rhyne of Chris Rhyne Financial Management, presented a cash award to the Teacher of the Year.

The winners:

Casey Oakes, Lincolnton Middle, was named Assistant Principal of the Year. Mr. Oakes is always seeking ways to serve others, primarily students.  Given the many challenges of staffing this year, Mr. Oakes drives a bus each morning and afternoon.  Many times after completion of his afternoon route, he goes straight to administrative duties at various sporting events.  He also volunteers to serve as a substitute teacher when there are none available.  Mr. Oakes promotes positive behavior and never hesitates to work alongside families and staff members to come up with strategies and interventions to help students succeed.  He can also be seen working with the custodial staff to clean the school, fix toilets, trim bushes, or paint.  Principal Allison Rhyne said, “He is the perfect example of a servant leader.  He will never ask anyone to do something that he is not willing to do himself. I truly believe Lincolnton Middle School is a better place each day because we have Mr. Oakes on our team! ”

Brandy Gates, Iron Station Elementary, was named School Bus Driver of the Year. Ms. Gates is a first grade teacher assistant and is new to Iron Station this year.  At the beginning of the year, she was given a permanent afternoon route.  She also volunteered to help drive in the morning when needed.  In September, a morning route came open, and Ms. Gates gladly accepted the new duties.  While driving a bus in the morning and afternoon, working as a teacher assistant during the day, Brandy also works a part-time job as a pharmacy tech, all while attending school to become a teacher.  Kassie Arndt, Assistant Principal, said, “I cannot say enough about Brandy’s positive demeanor and willingness to help out in any way she can!”

Deborah Alexander, East Lincoln High School, was named Child Nutrition Employee of the Year.  Ms. Alexander has worked for Child Nutrition for over 30 years and has touched the lives of many students and staff members during that time.  Ms. Alexander always has a smile on her face and has a contagious spirit.  Shelly Rhyne, Director of Child Nutrition, said “Debbie is an excellent leader and a true testament to what we all strive to be.”

Mary McDonald, Pumpkin Center Intermediate, was named Classified Employee of the Year. Mrs. McDonald leads small groups and one-on-one instruction daily.  She works with all grade levels as a push-in support system and devotes ninety minutes of her day to leading intervention groups.  Mrs. McDonald also covers classes when there are no substitutes available.  In addition, she is also a bus driver.  Assistant Principal Jordan Beam said, “She pours her heart and soul into driving and is always putting the safety of her students as her top priority.  She is consistent, dedicated, and efficient in every hat she wears at PCIS and I am more than thankful to have her on our team.”

Shaina Thomas, Union Elementary, was named Counselor of the Year. Mrs. Thomas is currently in her fifth year of school counseling for Lincoln County Schools.  She works with all students Kindergarten through fifth grade (K-5) by providing lessons on character education and leading with kindness.  In addition to the K-5 classes, Mrs. Thomas works on social and emotional skills with 2nd and 3rd grade classes.  She also works collaboratively with our teachers and school social worker to provide individual and small group counseling for our students in social and emotional, anxiety, testing, relationships and more.  Principal Kellie Dellinger said, “She is always ready and willing to help administration with behaviors and social and emotional needs as they arise.  I am grateful for Mrs. Thomas and the energy she provides at Union on a daily basis.”

Jennifer Gibson, Love Memorial Elementary, was named Media Coordinator of the Year. Mrs. Gibson has worked at Love for 17 years.  In addition to her daily media center duties, she manages the school year book, serves on the School Improvement Team, coaches the Battle of the Books team, organizes book fairs, invites authors to speak, helps out in the front office, helps with the school news, and many other jobs.  Principal Chris Kolasinski said, "We are so proud of Mrs. Gibson and thankful that she is ours.  There isn't a single Cardinal at Love Memorial that she hasn't had a positive impact on whether that's helping choose a book to technology troubleshooting." 

Kelly Withrow, GE Massey Elementary, was named Principal of the Year in October 2021.  Mrs. Withrow began her career at G.E. Massey teaching fourth grade twenty-two years ago.  She also taught at Kiser Intermediate, served as Assistant Principal at Pumpkin Center Primary/Pumpkin Center Intermediate school for two years, then became Principal at G.E. Massey in February 2018.  Superintendent Dr. Allen said, “ Kelly is outstanding at making her community, students, and staff feel welcomed, loved for, and excited to be part of the GEM mine family.  She has a heart for students, a quick wit that allows for people to be comfortable around her, and an enthusiasm that is evident in all she does.  She is a sound instructional leader and is also a former LCS Teacher of the Year in the past.  She was selected from an outstanding cadre of principals.” 

Rachel Frye, East Lincoln High School, was named Teacher of the Year. A National Board Certified Teacher and a 1998 East Lincoln High School graduate, Mrs. Frye took sophomore English in the classroom where she has taught students sophomore English for the past 19 years.  Mrs. Frye is a mentor to many colleagues, she served on several county-level committees to create benchmark testing and pacing guides.  She also serves as the director of ELHS’s Winterguard program, Cheval, for the past 18 years.  In addition, Mrs. Frye has led international group trips with students through EF tours since 2014.  Mrs. Frye also serves as the Leadership/Teacher Cadet Coordinator for ELHS. Dr. Allen said, “Mrs. Frye is an amazing educator, a great role model, and we are very proud of her and her accomplishments.  She exemplifies the best traits of an accomplished and dedicated teacher.” 

Katie Hardin, S. Ray Lowder Elementary, was named Volunteer of the Year.  As the PTO President, Mrs. Hardin spends countless hours planning and providing activities and treats for S. Ray Lowder staff and students.  She meets monthly with the PTO board for planning and is responsible for organizing and delegating responsibilities for events and fundraising efforts, including duty-free lunch, snacks, and special treats for staff at least once a month.  Mrs. Hardin plans frequent fundraising events such as Chick-fil-A nights and biscuit sales in the car rider line, as well as larger events such as the 5K.  Principal Kelly Saine said, “Katie Hardin manages our PTO like CEOs manage a business.  She meets and communicates with all stakeholders consistently while seeking feedback from everyone who is involved.  Katie is a tremendous asset to our school community.”



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