The University of Alabama

UA Capstone Education Society Awards Announced

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — The Capstone Education Society of The University of Alabama College of Education awards several honors each year to outstanding alumni in the field of education.

Each recipient is presented with a plaque and a $500 gift in recognition of their work in education.

In the category of Beginning Teacher, Kaylee Brooks and Leah Tollison were selected. The James E. McLean Excellence in Education Award was presented to Ashley Davidson, and the Harold L. Bishop Award for Leaders was presented to Neal Guy.

Harold L. Bishop Award for Leaders

Established to recognize the leadership of professions in education and honoring the late Dr. Harold L. Bishop, professor of educational administration

Gregory Neal Guy

Guy earned his master’s at the Capstone in 1991. He has been the principal of Holt High School in the Tuscaloosa County School System since 2008. While at Holt, he has designed and implemented changes to educational programming at Holt High School by leaving block scheduling and implementing the eight-period day. The intent of the change is to increase scholastic achievement and graduation rates.

The Tuscaloosa County Board of Education approved the initiative and now all high schools in the system will follow this format. He has managed and supervised professional development by instituting strategic teaching strategies in core and elective classes over a two-year period. These strategies will be implemented in secondary schools across the county in the 2013-2014 school years.

Guy collaborated with the Tuscaloosa Sheriff’s Department, the Emergency Management Association and the Holt Community Partnership to turn Holt High School into one of the major disaster relief efforts in the aftermath of the April 27, 2011 tornado that heavily affected the community of Holt. He has assisted in the follow-up efforts when the relief effort moved off campus.

Guy’s leadership is changing the climate of his school.

“From the beginning, he made it clear to the faculty that it was very important to have a positive, proactive approach while working with HHS learners,” said nominator Cynthia Dixon. “[People] make excuses about HHS troubles or failures by saying, ‘It’s only Holt,’ as if to say that poor performance or actions were linked to the community. That expression is no longer echoed in the halls. The learners at HHS have a sense of pride about their school and about their community.”

James E. McLean Excellence in Education Award

Established to recognize the professionalism of outstanding educators and to honor Dr. James E. McLean, former dean and professor of educational research

Ashley A. Davidson

Davidson is thriving at Matthews Elementary in Northport, where she has taught the fourth grade since 2004.  She takes pride in making sure her students test and rank well in the county system each year. She uses this tool to adjust her lessons to make sure her students are prepared for the fifth grade.

“Her lesson plans are such that she covers ample curriculum material but also gives a hands-on approach, especially in science,” said nominator Curry Adams. “She has also been successful in offering this same hands-on curriculum to her mainstreamed special-needs students.”

Davidson has developed significant relationships with several “at risk” students and has followed their progress long after they have left her classroom.

“Ashley seems to have a sixth sense, as many teachers do, that alerts her to their needs, and she always seems to find the resources to meet those needs. She’s been asked before why she hasn’t moved to a school in a more affluent neighborhood, but Ashley has always said that she feels she’s been ‘called’ to teach in a school of students at this financial level,” said Adams.

Last month, Ashley was nominated for County Teacher of the Year from Matthews Elementary.

Beginning Teacher Awards

Established to recognize beginning teachers and the impact they have made in their first years of teaching

Kaylee Brooks

Brooks earned her BSE at the Capstone in 2010. She completed her internship at Tuscaloosa Magnet School.  As an intern, Brooks embraced the project-based teaching practices, technology integration across the curriculum, and the International Baccalaureate accreditation process. She challenged the students with instruction of the highest rigor and relevance but actively engaged all students with differentiated teaching strategies.

When a teaching position became available in June 2010, Brooks was hired. “More than seventy applicants applied for the only position at the Tuscaloosa Magnet School, but we knew Mrs. Brooks was the one who could guide our students to levels they never dreamed possible,” said Mary Kathryn Gerkin, Brooks’ nominator. “Over the past three years, Mrs. Brooks has worked with fourth and fifth grade students. Her depth of knowledge, research-based teaching strategies, and web-based instruction challenges her students to become 21st century learners.”

“For Mrs. Brooks, teaching doesn’t end at 3:15, and she takes it upon herself to aid the student that may still be lagging behind or to maintain constant parent communication concerning a student,” Gerkin added. “She also enthusiastically works with our extended day program and engages our after school students in developmentally appropriate programs. For a beginning teacher, she shows the experience and maturity of a veteran. She has more wisdom and passion for teaching than any other professional I have worked with in my fifteen-year career.”

Leah Tollison

Tollison graduated summa cum laude with a BSE from the Capstone in 2010. As an undergraduate, she was voted Most Outstanding Undergraduate Student – Secondary English/Language Arts, was a member of Kappa Delta Epsilon, the University Honors Program, and had a research article published in English Journal.

She started at Hillcrest High School in Tuscaloosa as a high school English teacher in August 2011. She has been given a variety of teaching assignments, covering Advanced English 11, Regular English 11 and Regular English 12.Tollison willingly took on additional responsibilities as Hillcrest’s varsity girls’ soccer coach and as a sponsor to multiple organizations including prom committee, Pride and Junior Civitan.

“Leah’s classroom can always be observed as engaging, spontaneous and exciting,” said Kathleen King, Tollison’s nominator. “Students are eager to attend her class and often report their success in meeting her highest expectations she holds towards her students. She is well educated in her field and very admired by veteran teachers.”

One teacher reported that she has “never seen a new teacher build such incredible rapport with students; that usually takes years.” Tollison demonstrates a balance of classroom management in kinesthetic learning environment.

“She has demonstrated authentic work ethic in the work place with the way that she builds relationships and works with her co-workers and administrators,” King said. “She desires to grow constantly as a teacher and learn more skills in effectively teaching students to enjoy and learn from English literature and preparing them for collegiate level writing and research.”

The University of Alabama, a student-centered research university, is experiencing significant growth in both enrollment and academic quality. This growth, which is positively impacting the campus and the state's economy, is in keeping with UA's vision to be the university of choice for the best and brightest students. UA, the state's flagship university, is an academic community united in its commitment to enhancing the quality of life for all Alabamians.