Brailyn Whitson, a 5th grader at Jackson Township Elementary School, knew first-hand who should win the Wal-Mart Teacher of the Year Award. A student in Carolyn Bradshaw's classroom, Whitson quickly came to appreciate her teacher as a friend throughout the course of the school year.
"She's very nice," Whitson said about her mentor Bradshaw. "She called to check on me when I was home sick one day; and when I got glasses, she complimented me." She nominated her favorite teacher for the annual teaching award.
Principal Jeff Fritz agrees with the student. Working with Bradshaw for 14 years at the school, he said no one deserved the award more this time around.
"This is an extra special time," he said, pointing out that the 37-year-long teaching veteran will be retiring this year. "I'm very pleased for her." She has worked at Jackson Township Elementary for 24 years.
Bradshaw is one of three educators recognized by Wal-Mart's different divisions. She was picked as the transportation department winner. Jackson Township Elementary School is $1,000 richer now as a result. Whitson, her mother, Laura Sanders, who is also a Wal-Mart employee, along with human resource manager Dan Best presented a check in Bradshaw's honor to the school, donning the teacher with a blue Wal-Mart vest during a ceremony in the school's gymnasium Tuesday morning. She is now eligible to compete statewide for a $5,000 award.
Bradshaw was thrilled and surprised.
"I couldn't have done it without everyone here," she announced, emotionally moved, while thanking the audience.
Best said Bradshaw stood out among a "whole stack of ballots" for the award.
"She's a fair teacher -- she's nice and cares about her students," Best said, explaining that's what the chain looks for when recognizing teachers going above and beyond their teaching duties.