Nominations are accepted from all schools and then one teacher is selected from each academic level.
“Cheatham County is fortunate to have so many talented and committed teachers in our schools, serving our students every day and helping to ensure their success in the classroom,” said Interim Director of Schools Stacy Brinkley. “The three finalists represent the exemplary teaching that goes on every day across our school district.”
The 2016-2017 District Wide Teachers of the Year are:
High school, Anita DeFrancesca: Theatre arts teacher at Harpeth High School. DeFrancesca has taught and served in this position for 13 years. She currently serves as the head of the school’s Fine Arts Department, and she is a member of the faculty advisory committee and safety committee. She has sponsored Harpeth’s talent show since 2015. She has been named a WSMV Teacher of the Week and Community Bank & Trust Distinguished Teacher. She is active in the community, having previously served on the Cheatham County Community Theater’s board of directors. DeFrancesca has directed many plays through the years at Harpeth, setting the stage for her students to shine. Her passion and enthusiasm for the arts is immeasurable. Watching her students bloom and sparkle is a huge personal reward, and she’s grateful for the support the theatre program has received.
Middle school, Molly Hudgens: Counselor at Sycamore Middle School. Hudgens has been with the district for 18 years and has served in her current position for nine years. She has been a member of the SMS crisis team as well as the leadership and grant-writing committees. She sponsors the Junior Beta Club and is the school’s public relations designee. This is the second time she has been named Middle School Teacher of the Year (2004-2005). Hudgens regularly conducts school violence workshops, and she has served as a trainer for the Cheatham County Sheriff’s Department and Juvenile Court for her “Recognizing Red Flags: Understanding Your Role in Preventing Teen Violence” program. She is an active member of Friendship Free Will Baptist Church. She also enjoys participating in local 5Ks and races. In the past two years, she has run every local race, including the MidTN Shootout, Booby Bolt, Panther Prowl and Grateful Gobble. She also ran the Bowling Green 26.2 Marathon. Hudgens goes above and beyond her duties as a counselor to ensure the success of every student at SMS.
Elementary school, Deanna Mealio: First-grade teacher at Kingston Springs Elementary School. She has taught for 12 years and has been in her current position for five years. Before arriving at KSES, she taught at Luckett Christian Academy in Michigan and McKissack Middle School in Nashville. She loves her students and deeply cares for their success. She works diligently to meet the academic needs of her students by providing learning experiences that are hands-on, individualized and relevant to her students' lives. She has served on the KSES leadership team for five years. She was named the school’s Employee of the Month in March 2016. She is active in her community, serving as a tutor and helping with The Ark’s school supply giveaway. She attends Pegram Church of Christ, where she serves as a Bible class teacher.
The 2016-2017 school-level Teachers of the Year are:
Ashland City Elementary School: Kristi Hasse
East Cheatham Elementary School: Emily Wong
Kingston Springs Elementary School: Deanna Mealio
Pegram Elementary School: Jennifer Bolton
Pleasant View Elementary School: Megan Frost
West Cheatham Elementary School: Amanda Willoughby
Cheatham Middle School: Amanda Bradley
Harpeth Middle School: Lori Johnson
Sycamore Middle School: Molly Hudgens
Cheatham County Central High School: Rachel Balthrop
Harpeth High School: Anita DeFrancesca
Sycamore High School: Andrew Gaskill
Riverside Academy: Nathaniel Walker
All of the winning teachers will be recognized at a banquet in April.