Two FMS teachers honored

From left, Joni Bills, Sam’s Club manager Kevin Judge, Wal-Mart manager Joseph Alvarez and Sherry Airhart pose with Bills’ check from Sam’s Club. (Photo by Karen Michael)

Two Frenship Middle School teachers were surprised during a faculty meeting last Wednesday when they were named the Wal-Mart Teacher of the Year and the Sam’s Club Teacher of the Year.

Sherry Airhart, a life skills teacher for special education students, and Joni Bills, a sixth-grade reading teacher, were named the Wal-Mart and Sam’s teachers, respectively.

The awards given were for the entire market area of Sam’s and Wal-Mart, including several school districts. It was a coincidence that both teachers selected were from Frenship because although the two stores are owned by the same company, neither used the same selection procedures.

“Isn’t that wild?” Bills said of both teachers coming from the same school. “And they (Wal-Mart and Sam’s) didn’t even know that. Isn’t that weird?”

Bills has been teaching reading for 12 years, with three in Lubbock before she took time off from public schools to direct a day care for nine years. She then joined the Frenship staff and has been there nine years.

The sixth graders Bills instructs can be at different reading levels she said, with some reading at a second grade level and others at a high school senior level.

“I teach them reading skills that they can all apply to become better readers,” she said.

“I’m very honored, and so blessed to be selected when there are so many other teachers,” said Bills. “This district just allows you to grow to your fullest potential as a teacher… It’s a wonderful place to work.”

Airhart has been teaching 23 years and was previously named the Region 17 teacher of the year. She teaches life skills, but also teaches reading, math, writing,  science and social studies.

“There are so many good teachers at Frenship alone… I just feel like I’m doing what I do, and I know everyone else is out there doing a good job, too. It’s very humbling” to win the Wal-Mart award, she said.

She was inspired to go into special education because of family members who had special needs.

“Every student has special gifts and abilities, no matter what class they are in,” she said.

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