Orange Beach Elementary School teacher Kelly Cleere and Baldwin County High School teacher Judy Peacock Bridges are among the 16 finalists nominated for Alabama’s 2016-2017 Teacher of the Year.

Baldwin County High School teacher Judy Bridges. (Baldwin County Public School System photo)

Baldwin County High School teacher Judy Bridges. (Baldwin County Public School System photo)


Orange Beach Elementary School teacher Kelly Cleere. (Baldwin County Public School System photo)

Orange Beach Elementary School teacher Kelly Cleere. (Baldwin County Public School System photo)


Well-trained, dedicated, caring, enthusiastic, and innovative teachers are among the ingredients essential to achieving excellence in preparing children to become capable adults. The 16 outstanding educators who have been selected as finalists for Alabama’s 2016-2017 Teacher of the Year exemplify these qualities and more, according to a press release from the Alabama State Department of Education.

“The educators nominated for this prestigious award nurture the character, intellect, and talent of Alabama’s students, and are committed to helping their students achieve success in the classroom and beyond,” Sherrill Parris, Senior Deputy State Superintendent of Education, said. “They exemplify teaching at its best, and we are proud to have them teaching in our state.”

The 16 finalists have emerged from a group of over 140 exceptional educators from across the state who submitted applications for the Alabama Teacher of the Year Program, one of the oldest and most prestigious award programs for teachers. The pool will soon be narrowed down to four, and the 2016-2017 Teacher of the Year will be announced at a ceremony hosted by the Alabama State Board of Education and the Alabama State Department of Education May 11, at 6 p.m. at the RSA Plaza Terrace in Montgomery.

Alabama’s Teacher of the Year spends the majority of the school year serving as a full-time ambassador for education and the teaching profession as well as presenting workshops to various groups. Additionally, Alabama’s representative is a candidate for the National Teacher of the Year.

“What an honor and a privilege it has been to represent Alabama’s passionate and dedicated army of educators who are educating and advocating for students each and every day,” Jennifer Brown, Alabama’s current Teacher of the year, said. “I am grateful to have been granted the opportunity to visit, observe, and share stories from many of the classrooms of our teacher champions of Alabama. Congratulations to the 16 teachers chosen to represent their districts. Thanks to each of you for the wonderful work you do with your students as well as the work you do to elevate and strengthen our profession.”