Stewart region's top teacher

Amanda Stewart helps North Middle School students Osmar Lopez Baltazar, left, Sandy and Romas Solis Jolon with their letters to Santa.

English language learner teacher Amanda Stewart was recently recognized as East Tennessee ELL Teacher of the Year.

Stewart was one of three in the state honored by the Tennessee Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages during a Dec. 11 virtual conference. Others were recognized in Middle and West Tennessee.

“The TNTESOL award is a prestigious award,” Maria Warren, Loudon County Schools Elementary/RTI supervisor, said in an email correspondence. “Nominees for this award are K-12 ESL teachers with distinguished careers in English language teaching and a history of service to students, schools and communities.

“… Amanda works very hard for her students and the schools that she serves,” she added. “She continuously works to strengthen and improve her instructional practices to provide the best instruction to her students. Amanda provides her students with quality instruction and demonstrates leadership in the field of ESL. We are very proud of Amanda; she is well-deserving of this prestigious award.”

Although she didn’t advance to the state level, Stewart felt thankful to be recognized.

“I’m appreciative of how supportive administrators and supervisors are in Loudon County, because I’ve always felt like as an ELL teacher my job is three-fold,” Stewart said. “Think the center of a triangle and the three points are equally important, the student of course the top, but I can’t really support that student if I don’t support the classroom teacher that spends the majority of the day with them, and then also the family. These families have a lot of needs and need encouragement to be able to participate in their child’s education.”

The announcement came as a surprise to Stewart, who initially thought she needed to attend to help with training.

“It was extremely well deserved and long overdue that she needed an award,” Jodi Lowery, North Middle School principal, said. “She needs many awards, truthfully. Amanda serves not only the students that she has in her ELL program but really all of our students. Not only that, but she serves our teachers really well. She’s a huge support for our teachers. They never have to worry about having the materials that they need or the support. She is right in there at the beginning meeting with them and planning and preparing them to serve the needs of their ELL students to the best of their ability even though that may not be their specialty.”

Lowery has spent 16 years in Loudon County Schools. This year she serves NMS and Eaton Elementary School.

“I enjoy the process of language acquisition,” Stewart said. “To be able to support both the child and the family and the teachers I think appeals to me. There’s such a need, because especially given our current situation in the world, it’s just exacerbating the issues that English language learners have and their families. It’s always been a love of mine to work with these families and watch the child’s language grow, because most of these families are here because they want to improve their family’s opportunities in life.”

Stewart said she doesn’t do the work for awards, but it’s nice to be recognized.

“Loudon County is all about teaching the whole child and meeting the needs of the whole child,” she said. “Since our numbers continue to increase in Loudon County of language learners, the fact we are embracing them shows me that we’re doing the right thing.”