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Outstanding Educators

JACKSON, Tenn. – The Jackson-Madison County School System proudly recognizes 23 outstanding educators. One was chosen from each of the district’s schools by a panel of fellow educators and co-workers.

Of those 23, three finalists were chosen to represent each grade category:

  • Amanda Smith – Pre-K through 4th grade

  • Erit Turner – 5th through 8th grade

  • Amanda Kinnison – 9th through 12th grade

Amanda Smith is a third-grade teacher at Arlington Elementary School. In her fourth year as an educator, Smith strives to be “that teacher,” the one who inspires and changes the life of her students just like her fifth-grade math teacher did for her. “I hated math,” she remembers. “Mr. Spence took time out every day to work with me. It was then that I developed a love for math. It became one of my favorite and best subjects.”

Along with teaching, Smith serves as a learning coach, technology teacher leader and Beta Club sponsor. The single mom of three grew up in Illinois and graduated from the University of Memphis – Lambuth. “I am so honored and thrilled to represent JMCSS and Arlington is such a positive way.”

Erit Turner is a Health and PE teacher at North Parkway Middle School. He previously served as a special education assistant at North Side High School. The seven-year teaching veteran has taken on a host of additional duties at North Parkway, including the literacy council, student support coach and after-school tutoring co-leader. “I feel like being a teacher is what I’m called to do,” said Turner. “It’s the perfect career to have a direct, positive impact on our youth.”

A Jackson-native and product of the District, Turner is a graduate of Jackson Central-Merry. He holds degrees from the University of Memphis and Freed-Hardeman. He is also the youngest of eight siblings. When he’s not working with his students, Turner enjoys attending church, fishing and cheering on the Tar Heels, Volunteers and Lebron James.

Amanda Kinnison is the French teacher at Liberty Technology Magnet High School. “I feel honored and humbled by the recognition,” said Kinnison. “I appreciate that others would think highly enough of me to offer me this opportunity to represent Liberty and the District.” Kinnison is in her fourth year with JMCSS. She taught previously in Jackson, Miss.

Kinnison also serves as the head volleyball and tennis coach, is on the literacy team and is yearbook advisor. She grew up in Mississippi and attended the University of Southern Mississippi (Go, Golden Eagles). “Teaching allows me to share my passion for languages,” said Kinnison. “It allows me to make a positive impact on students and help them understand there’s a big world out there for them to see.”

Smith, Turner and Kinnison are finalists for the JMCSS District Teacher of the year award. That honor will be awarded at a banquet recognizing all of the Teacher of the Year candidates, May 21, at 11:30 a.m., at the Star Center.

The three will also go on to represent the District in the Southwest Regional competition for the state Teacher of the Year Award.


  • Alexander Elementary – Sheri Moon

  • Andrew Jackson Elementary – Melissa Blankenship

  • Arlington Elementary – Amanda Smith

  • Community Montessori – Maryann McClendon

  • Denmark Elementary – Kimberly McNeal

  • East Elementary – Miranda Jackson

  • Isaac Lane Elementary – Leah Wages

  • Jackson Career and Technology – Phyllip Plyer

  • Jackson Central-Merry Early College High –Eugene Clark

  • Liberty Technology Magnet High – Amanda Kinnison

  • Lincoln Elementary – Debbie Welch

  • Madison Academic Magnet High – Gale Phillips

  • North Parkway Middle – Erit Turner

  • North Side High – Sharon Perry-Theus

  • Northeast Middle – Jana Young

  • Parkview Learning Center – Stephanie Gordon

  • Pope School – Samantha Wood

  • Rose Hill School – Carol Ann Alphin

  • South Elementary – Angel Roberts

  • South Side High – Mark Barnett

  • Thelma Barker Elementary – Tanneth Gander

  • West Bemis Middle – Jocelyn Wingate

  • Whitehall Pre-K at Nova – Lynda Myracle

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