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The Finley Committee Honors its 2023 Teachers in the Trenches

January 27, 2023

(Hoover, AL) – During its annual Teacher in the Trenches Character Awareness Breakfast, the Finley Committee recognized three teachers for leading with character and going beyond the call of duty to serve students in the District. The event honoring the award winners was held on Tuesday, January 24, in the Community Room at Hoover City Hall. 

The Teacher in the Trenches award honors educators whose dedication and kindness impact students beyond the classroom. The award highlights the teacher’s positive impact on the overall climate and culture of the school and for being a steadfast "champion" for the students. The Finley Committee selects one elementary, middle, and high school teacher to receive this annual award. 

In December 2022, 50 teachers were nominated by their fellow teachers throughout the District. From those nominations, the following teachers were selected by a group of educators to receive the award for 2023:

  • Monica Horne, 3rd Grade Teacher at Deer Valley Elementary School

Horne has been an educator for 17 years and seven of those years with HCS. Horne is described as a teacher who goes above and beyond to show her students that she cares. She’s known to support her students outside the classroom by attending their birthday parties, sporting events, and dance competitions. Horne says teaching allows her to serve others, build relationships, and fulfill her desire to connect with students, families, and peers.

Horne said, “It is such an honor to be nominated and receive the Teacher in the Trenches Award.  Teaching allows me to serve others, and I am forever grateful that someone saw my servant's heart. It is such a blessing to serve the students, families, and teachers of Deer Valley, and I am blessed to share in just a part of my students' lives.  It is my hope that they always remember to share kindness wherever they are. I hope they always remember to laugh and enjoy each moment of life.  I hope they remember that everyone deserves to smile and to share a smile wherever they go.”

  • Allison Winterberger, 6th Grade Math Teacher at Simmons Middle School

Winterberger has been with HCS for the entire 18 years of her career as an educator. Her colleagues say she has an incredible ability to create an engaging and creative classroom, and she does whatever it takes to get her students across the finish line. 

“I am humbled and honored to receive this year's Teacher in the Trenches award.  It means a lot to me to receive such a prestigious character award,” said Winterberger. 

Winterberger says what she loves most about teaching is her students. She says she always has a few students who are skeptical about math at the beginning of the school year and says shifting their mindsets about math is one of her greatest rewards. She enjoys helping them realize math is useful and fun. 

When asked what she hopes her students learn from her teaching, she replied, “I hope my students gain the confidence to continue to share their ideas. It is so encouraging to see a room full of students eager to participate, and I hope they take this enthusiasm far beyond the classroom. I hope they continue to believe in themselves and feel empowered to play their part in society long after stepping out of 6th grade.”

  • Jordan Sherrell, Advanced 9th and Advanced 10th Grades English Teacher at Hoover High School  

Sherrell has been an educator for four years, all of which have been with HCS. He is also on the coaching staff of the Hoover High School freshman football team and speech and debate teams. His colleagues describe him as a teacher who removes the intimidation from reading and writing and invests in each student. Sherrell is known as a caring, compassionate, supportive, and dedicated teacher. 

Sherrell says what he loves most about being a teacher is his time with the students. He says he loves to have conversations that make students (and himself) think in new, challenging ways.

“Receiving this award is a great honor,” said Sherrell. “When I was first notified that I  was chosen for this award, I felt undeserving; there are so many of my colleagues who go above and beyond for our students. This was an uncomfortable moment for me because I don't feel like I do anything particularly extraordinary. But reading the two nominations from my colleagues, I was blown away. I try to set a good example and lead with kindness, but to hear that my intentions are meeting my actions made me fulfilled. Growing up in the Hoover community, I played lacrosse on Finley field at the old high school. I knew of Bob Finley's legacy and that the Finley Award went to a truly special student. I never thought life would bring me to this particular moment. I am happy to carry along the torch that was started long before me in our District.”

During the Teacher in the Trenches Breakfast, HCS Chief Learning Officer and Finley Committee member Dr. Chris Robbins said, “In Hoover, we have many teachers who go above and beyond the call of duty, and of course, nothing has illustrated this more than the last three years in education. We’ve all gone a step further than we even thought that we could go at times, but also, we have teachers who continue to go above and beyond, and it’s exciting to have the opportunity to recognize that. We see our teachers every day spending their time and energy, and their mornings, days, and nights seeking to make an impact on kids in the city of Hoover and their families. The Teacher in the Trenches award was created to recognize the efforts of these teachers.”

About The Finley Committee

The Finley Award Committee for character education was created in 1996. The committee hosts events throughout the year to recognize students and teachers who exhibit exceptional character in the spirit of Coach Bob Finley — the committee’s namesake. Longtime coach and educator at W.A. Berry High School, Finley led by example and was known for his calm demeanor, integrity, and strong faith.