Many teachers in Wilson County took the temperature of students this past year because of COVID-19 guidelines. Katie Ingram, a teacher at Barry Tatum Academy, has been taking her students’ temperatures long before that to guide them toward academic and emotional success.
Ingram, an Exceptional Education teacher for grades 6-12, was selected as the 2020-21 Wilson County Teacher of the Year at a banquet held at Cumberland University’s Baird Chapel last Friday. She received a $2,000 cash award and her school received $500. Ingram is the first Tatum Academy (formerly MAP Academy) teacher to win the award in its 23-year history.
Each of the county’s 32 schools selected a teacher of the year who was eligible for the countywide award.
Ingram works with students at the Alternative School, the Online School and the Adult High School.
“Every day I check how the students are doing. We call that ‘taking their temperature,’ ” Ingram said. “One of my best moments this year was when one student, who had bounced around from guardian to guardian and was having a bad day, sat down in my office and told me that she felt safe in there and loved in there.
“They just need that personal interaction; they need that push to succeed.”
Barry Tatum Academy is located in Lebanon near Southside Elementary School. It serves as the alternative school for Wilson County Schools students in grades 6-12.
Ingram said that her typical workday breaks down into about one-third of the time for classroom instruction, one-third for being a counselor to students and one-third paperwork.
The quote from Ingram included on her nomination form said: “No matter what life throws at my students, they know when they enter the doors at Barry Tatum Academy, I am there to love on them and hold them accountable in all parts of their life. They are not ‘bad kids,’ they just made a ‘poor choice.’ ”
“Her caring and thoughtfulness for her students and her ability to build relationships with parents makes her just outstanding for us,” Tatum Academy Principal Shaun Caven said. “Katie always takes on new responsibilities with a smile on her face. She played a huge role in making this school the place it is today.”
Ingram knows exactly how to act around teachers. Her aunt recently retired as a principal, her sister teaches first grade and a cousin is a school librarian.
“I can describe to you my K-12 grade teachers. Their names. Their subjects. What they looked like. And I remember that they taught me something that no one else did. That’s the difference that you make,” Bob McDonald, the president and CEO of CedarStone Bank, one of the award’s two primary sponsors, told the banquet attendees.
“Your peers thought you were the best teacher in your school. That’s an honor in itself,” said W.P. Bone III, owner of Wilson County Chevrolet Buick GMC Hyundai, one of the award’s two primary sponsors, told the banquet attendees.
Ingram taught for one year at Mt. Juliet Middle School and eight years at Lakeview Elementary. She just completed her fourth year at Tatum Academy.
“It’s a joy to go there to work every day,” Ingram said. “Our school can get a bad reputation but it is truly one of the hidden gems of Wilson County.”