In a special presentation at Dublin Middle School on Tuesday morning, seventh grade teacher Melissa Gilbert and bookkeeper Thelma Ratcliff were honored as "Teacher of the Year" and "Employee of the Year" in the Pulaski County School System.
Both Gilbert and Ratcliff were stunned when they found out they had been chosen for these honors.
"I just thought what a special honor it was for me," Ratcliff said. "I love working at Dublin Middle School. The faculty and staff are wonderful to work with. I am just real blessed to be a part of this school."
"I was completely surprised," said Gilbert. "I felt honored to represent Dublin Middle School, our students, and other teachers in the county. My family and my best friend, Ms. Turner, kept it from me very well. When I first saw everyone in the hallway, I thought they were there for the eighth grade assembly. I was shocked and didn’t know it was coming. I feel honored to be recognized for all my hard work and effort with the kids.
Gilbert is a math teacher at Dublin Middle School and a graduate of Radford University. She has fifteen years of experience in the Pulaski County School System.
The person who nominated her recognized her as an example for both novice and veteran teachers. Ms. Gilbert is known for setting her students’ well-being and academic progress as her priorities. Her expectations are high for her students and herself. Her dedication to the students, colleagues and education are a credit to herself, her profession and her school system.
During the day of the presentation, Ratcliff was celebrating her birthday and received flowers and balloons in her office that were believed to be celebrating the occasion. However, those tokens were for her Employee of the Year honor.
"I just wondered ‘are these (flowers and balloons) for my birthday?,’" Ratcliff said. "So that was real special. It was a real special day and that was a special award for me."
Ratcliff is a graduate of Pulaski County High School and Cornett School of Business. She also attended New River Community College and Radford University as well. She has been an employee of the school system for 21 years.
Ratcliff is said to always have a kind word and positive attitude toward everyone. Her nominator noted that she is available to help others, and is always kind, sincere, and genuine. When asked if she had any any comments, she typically gave praise to those around her: "the faculty here is so wonderful to work with."
Turner talked about her feelings on the two choices for these awards and why she believed each person was selected for the honor.
"She (Ratcliff) brings sunshine to our school," Turner said. "She brightens our day. She is the most positive person I have ever met in my life with the kids and with the adults. She puts a positive spin on everything that goes on here."
Gilbert "is 100% at everything she does," Turner said. "That is why the kids love her. That is why she is an effective teacher. It is why everyone asks her to do things because she knows how to do them right.
"She is 100 percent about the kids. Lots of times in education, the focus gets away from the kids when it comes to the politics of education. Every decision and choice she makes, she puts the kids number one. I think that says a lot about Misi."
Each recipient was given a floral bouquet and balloons from county school officials, a bag of gifts from Horace Mann Insurance by Scott Arnett, and a gift certificate for two to the Sunday brunch at Mountain Lake Hotel.