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Richland One Announces District’s 2020-2021 Teacher of the Year and Classified Employee of the Year



It was a jubilant stealth mission for sure: Friday morning, Richland One Superintendent Dr. Craig Witherspoon arrived at Lewis Greenview Elementary School – and later at Eau Claire High School – with a small band of employees who were his accomplices, carrying flowers, balloons, cameras and two big surprise announcements.


Greenview music teacher Richelle Sinkler was named Richland One’s 2020-2021 Teacher of the Year, and Eau Claire social worker Carena Jones was named the district’s 2020-2021 Classified Employee of the Year.


As the daughter of two educators, Ms. Sinkler has known since middle school that she wanted to be a music teacher because of the power of music. She has taught music for 11 years.


“I’m surprised,” she said in accepting the Teacher of the Year honor. “I love what I do and I’m excited and very honored to represent this profession. Music is a language that bridges gaps and pulls people together and helps children learn other concepts.”


Carena Jones’ joyful tears spoke for her as she learned she had been chosen as Richland One’s Classified Employee of the Year. As a school social worker, she helps to ensure that students have what they need to succeed academically and in their daily lives.


“I’m grateful and I enjoy what I do,” said Ms. Jones, who has been at Eau Claire for four years. “The students mean a lot to me and bring me joy. I love being of service to the students and staff. I love Eau Claire. I get to live my high school years over again and serve others.”


The district extends its congratulations to the winners, as well as the other employees who were finalists for these prestigious awards.


· Teacher of the Year finalists – Amanda Melvin, A.C. Flora High School; Lockey Plyler, Rosewood Elementary School; Senddrick Putnam, Logan Elementary School; Ashley Rhyne, Brennen Elementary School


· Classified Employee of the Year finalists – Rhoda Bowers, Brennen Elementary School; Gwendolyn Haynes-Etheredge, Office of Communications; Debra Lomas, Caughman Road Elementary School; Crawford Williams, Financial Services