Barnett named Shelby's top teacher

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Simpsonville 5th-grade teacher Sloane Barnett says she wants class to be “like a family.”

By Todd Martin

After honoring the 11 nominees for Shelby County's 2012 WHAS ExCel Teacher of the Year Thursday, the school district showed a short video with students from the winner's class stating why that teacher is at the top.


When the film began and Simpsonville fifth-grade teacher Sloane Barnett noticed it included students from her classroom, you could see the surprise on her face. And as it all started to wash over her, a little fist-pump and yes slipped out before she came forward to receive the bouquet of flowers and hear the applause from the crowd at Claudia Sanders.

"I was surprised because those were all great teachers," she said. "I know several of them, and it was stiff competition. Not that it's a competition, though."

Barnett was chosen from a pool of five elementary teachers and then beat out East Middle School teacher Jennifer Cox and Collins High School teacher Nikki Canterbury for the district-wide award.

As the winner, Barnett will be featured in a WHAS-TV segment and will compete for the state award.

Barnett said she tries to keep her students invested in one another.

“We try to focus the class on being like a family,” she said. “We love each other, support each other and help each other. That way they know if they’re successful, then that means they’ll all be successful.”

She’s also willing to slow lessons down, making sure students are getting everything they need.

“I plan math for the fifth grade, and sometimes we’re slow, because it takes time,” she said. “Sometimes they’ll struggle, and they have to learn that it’s ok to struggle. Thinking strategies are a big part of that. They have to realize that we’re just not going to give them the answer if they can’t get it. They might have to struggle to get through it, and that’s OK.”


Shelby County’s Teacher of the Year nominees

Tommy Acklin — Education Center @ Cropper

*Sloane Barnett — Simpsonville Elementary

Jeffrey Bracken — Shelby County High School

*Nikki Canterbury — Collins High School

*Jennifer Cox — East Middle

Heather Fallen — Painted Stone Elementary

Lillie Hall — West Middle

Sarah Jump — Heritage Elementary

Paula Kingsolver — Wright Elementary

Katey Martin — Clear Creek Elementary

Sarah Smith — Southside Elementary

*Denotes level winners

Bold denotes overall winner