The Marion School District is honoring some of its highest achievers with the announcement of its 2022-23 Teachers of the Year. Through votes of school staffs, one Teacher of the Year was selected from each school in the district, with one honoree being selected as the overall district winner.
This year’s Marion School District Teacher of the Year is Suzanna Thompson, AP Language and AP Literature teacher at Marion High School. Thompson is also Teacher of the Year for Marion High School.
Other honorees and their respective schools are Melanie Bryan for Marion Visual & Performing Arts Magnet, Heather Goodwin for Marion Math, Science & Technology Magnet, Leigh Hughes for Herbert Carter Global Community Magnet, and Lisa Lovely for Marion Junior High School.
Dr. Glen Fenter, Marion superintendent, had high praise for this year’s honorees.
“The team of educators we have here at the Marion School District is truly incredible, and these five individuals are among the best,” Fenter said. “I am continually honored to be able to work with teachers who bring such an amazing level of dedication and talent to their profession. I congratulate each of this year’s honorees for this well-deserved honor.”
Suzanna Thompson, Marion School District Teacher of the Year & MHS Teacher of the Year
A 28-year veteran of the Marion School District, Thompson most recently taught AP Language and AP Literature, but has also taught World History, English 11, English 10, and Honors English 10.
“I am humbled and honored to be selected as the Teacher of the Year,” Thompson said. “I accept this recognition on behalf of myself and my fellow educators in the Marion School District. We are all Teachers of the Year!”
Thompson is a Nationally Board-Certified educator, an experience that she said allowed for self-reflection and pushed her to be a better version of herself as a teacher on a daily basis. But she said the thing she is most proud of as a teacher is seeing her students grow in both literacy and in life.
“Our society has a lot to be proud of,” she said. “Our students are downright good people who want to succeed and represent themselves, their families, and their little piece of the world well. I am also thankful for all of the lessons I have learned from my students -- they have taught me the value of resilience, patience, and hard work.
Marion is the only district Thompson has worked for, and she said her favorite part about teaching at Marion is the sense of community throughout the district.
“Marion High School has been my home away from home for many years, and I am so thankful for all of the relationships that I have been able to cultivate with students, teachers, faculty, and staff throughout the years” she said. “God has truly blessed me by allowing me to be a part of such a wonderful group of folks.”
Melanie Bryan, VPA Teacher of the Year
Bryan teaches second grade and has been with VPA for five years.
“I am very honored and humbled that my school family chose me as VPA's teacher of the year,” Bryan said. “My favorite thing about teaching at VPA is that I work in a happy environment that is conducive to learning, where everyone on the staff puts the educational needs of the kids first.”
As a teacher, Bryan said she takes pride in seeing her students learn and flourish, and having the personal knowledge that she has been able to play a role in that development.
“I am most proud of being a part of my students' educational journey and watching each child grow throughout the year and knowing that I contributed to their success.”
Heather Goodwin, MST Teacher of the Year
Goodwin is in her first year as a school improvement specialist at MST, but has been in education for a total of 21 years.
“I work with some amazing educators that pour their heart and soul into this job every day and deserve this award just as much if not more than I do,” Goodwin said. “So I am extremely humbled and honored that my peers selected me.”
In the past year, Goodwin said she is most proud of starting peer reader groups, as well as a sixth grade work program. The program has provided sixth graders with opportunities to become leaders while earning "pay" for showing responsibility.
“I believe I was called to this profession,” Goodwin said. “So I consider it a blessing that I get to be here every day to serve and hopefully make a difference in the lives of all the students and teachers I come in contact with.”
Leigh Hughes, HCGC Teacher of the Year
Hughes has taught Marion kindergartners for 30 years, most recently at HCGC.
“I was shocked and felt so honored to be chosen as the Teacher of the Year,” Hughes said. “There are so many amazing teachers at HCGC -- every teacher here fits this description.”
In her years as a teacher, Hughes said the thing she is most proud of creating lasting relationships with her students and their families, and making sure they know she loves them.
“I am so proud to be able to see my former students growing up and living out their dreams in all kinds of professions,” she said. “For 25 years I worked at Avondale (Elementary), and for many of those years, I got to work alongside my mom, which was very special. It was there that I learned everything about kindergarten. I was given the great privilege to move to HCGC, and it was the best decision I have ever made. We are a family at HCGC -- everyone there loves kids and loves each other and there is no place I'd rather be!”
Lisa Lovely, MJHS Teacher of the Year
Lovely is a school counselor at MJHS, based at the Seventh Grade annex. She has been at MJHS for 23 years, and this is actually her second time earning a Teacher of the Year award.
“It is difficult for a counselor to be considered Teacher of the Year, since we do not have a classroom. So the fact that the people I admire most (teachers) see me in this way is a gift,” Lovely said.
Lovely has had a long career in education, having taught students from kindergarten to adult ages. She also teaches part-time at ASU-Midsouth. For several years, she has served on the Marion School District’s Personnel Policy Committee, including a stint as president. She was also responsible for starting the student council program at her school, providing leadership opportunities for students.
“What I am most proud of are the relationships that I have made with students and teachers,” she said. “I am now teaching grandchildren of students that I taught many years ago. The best reward a teacher gets is when a former student says, ‘You were my favorite teacher,’ -- It just doesn't get better than that.”
The Marion School District is an innovative and growing district committed to helping every student find their unique path to success in school and in life. With more than 150 years of experience serving families in Crittenden County, the district offers a high school, a junior high, and three award-winning magnet schools. For enrollment information, including information on school choice, visit https://www.msd3.org/ or call 870-739-5100.