City Schools honor teachers, alumni, former principal

Hayden Hyatt for The Cullman Tribune

John Tillman (second from left), a former principal of Cullman High School, is presented with an honorary diploma during the 10th annual Distinguished Alumni and Service Awards luncheon at Cullman High School. He is flanked by, left to right, Cullman City Schools Superintendent Dr. Susan Patterson, Cullman High School Principal Kim Hall and Cullman City Schools Foundation President Steve Sides. (Hayden Hyatt for The Cullman Tribune)

CULLMAN – Cullman City Schools Foundation (CCSF) members, Cullman alumni and others came out to Cullman High School for the CCSF’s 10th annual Distinguished Alumni and Service Awards luncheon Friday. The foundation provided lunch, presented Teacher of the Year Awards, recognized distinguished alumni and presented a service award.

One teacher from each of the five Cullman City Schools was recognized as a Teacher of the Year.

Tonya Trammell received the Cullman Primary School Teacher of the Year said the city school system is a great place to work.

“I owe a special thanks to (Principal) Tricia (Culpepper), Dr. (Susan) Patterson and the school board members for making this school system such an awesome place to work,” said Trammell. “Teachers are valued and respected and supported here.”

Kristi Noblett was awarded the West Elementary Teacher of the Year Award and said her school is a special place.

“This is my 23rd year teaching third grade at West Elementary, and this is my 25th year in Cullman City Schools, and I’ve loved every minute of it,” said Noblett. “West Elementary is a very special place. We love our kids and we love each other. Everybody works together for a common purpose.”

Kristen Barnett was presented with the Cullman High Teacher of the Year Award and spoke highly of the students at the school.

“I've been teaching health at CHS for nine years and I would like to thank the administrators and board members that gave me the opportunity to be part of a winning school system,” Barnett said. “You allowed me to work with truly amazing students. I have to say, it's the wonderful students and parents here at Cullman City Schools that make teaching so rewarding.”

Kim Johnson received both Cullman Middle and Secondary Teacher of the Year Awards and said she felt honored.

“I've taught middle school math for 17 years; the last 12 of those years have been here at Cullman Middle School,” Johnson said. “I'm so honored to have been named Cullman City Schools Secondary Teacher of the Year. I enjoy getting to teach and be a part of the lives of the great kids that come through here.”

Patti Britton was awarded the East Elementary and Elementary Teacher of the Year Awards. She said teaching is about more than just education.

“I think that a teacher is more than just an educator,” said Britton. “A teacher is a mentor, a cheerleader, a parent and an inspiration. As a teacher, I impact student lives daily. My goal with my students is to let them know that they are special, loved and that they can achieve the goals they set for their lives.”

Christina Chambers, now a multimedia journalist with more than seven years of experience, was the first of the alumni to be honored at the event. Chambers, a multi-sport athlete as a Bearcat, graduated from Cullman High School in 2006 and is now a host and sideline reporter for WBRC Fox 6 News in Birmingham.

Before accepting her award, Chambers spoke about the school and its teachers.

“When you read your resume out, you know you send it out everywhere, but to realize everything that I've done in my short career so far has been outstanding and it all started here at Cullman High School,” said Chambers. “So many teachers have impacted my life. If it wasn't for (them) pushing me day in and day out and seeing the potential in me, I wouldn't be where I am today.”

Melanie Maddox, who is now the vice president of talent & culture for BBVA Compass in Birmingham, was also recognized as a distinguished alumni. Maddox graduated from CHS in 1992 and in her time at the school was involved with the math team, scholars’ bowl and band. 

The event was held in Tillman Hall at CHS, named after former principal John Tillman, who was honored with a Distinguished Service Award. 

Tillman, a WWII U.S. Army veteran who retired as a colonel from the Army National Guard, served Cullman City Schools for more than three decades as a teacher, assistant principal and eventually principal.

After Tillman accepted his award, he was surprised with another presentation when CHS Principal Kim Hall gave him a CHS diploma of his own, recognizing him as an honorary graduate.

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