MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — A woman from central Alabama has been awarded teacher of the year.
Gov. Kay Ivey announced that Zestlan Simmons would receive the top honor for 2018-2019 this week, Al.com reported . She teaches advanced placement English at Booker T. Washington Magnet High School in the Montgomery school system.
Simmons will spend much of next school year speaking on the behalf of education, the teaching profession and presenting workshops. She now qualifies for national teacher of the year.
"There was a poem done earlier in the program tonight about catching dreams and I feel like I've caught mine," Simmons said. "I have been catching it since I started teaching and I want to continue to do that and I want to teach my students to do that as well."
Ivey said it was important to recognize educators who are "willing to be in the trenches and put in the work" and who are "dedicated to their craft and dedicated to their students."
"Tonight is a reminder that despite our challenges Alabama has good teachers," said Ivey, who is a former teacher.
Alabama's previous teacher of the year winner was Chasity Collier of Mobile County schools.
Fifteen other finalists were also recognized.
Meghan Allen was named alternative teacher of the year. She is in her ninth year as an Alabama special education teacher.
Simmons is a National Board Certified Teacher and holds master's degrees in language arts and instructional leadership from Auburn University. She's a mentor to new teachers in Montgomery Public Schools.
The program included video clips of finalists talking about their love of teaching. Simmons urged her fellow educators to appreciate their colleagues.
"They are my support and my grounding," Simmons said.