The 12th annual Nick's Kids Teacher Excellence Awards Luncheon honored 50 educators in Tuscaloosa County for going above and beyond for students in their classrooms.

The luncheon, hosted by the Nick's Kids Foundation, was held Friday afternoon at the Tuscaloosa River Market to recognize elementary and middle school teachers who continue to make a difference in the lives of area students.

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Terry Saban, a former educator, said this event is held annually to make sure teachers know their work is noticed and it allows the foundation the opportunity to give back and support teachers for all that they do daily.

"I realized as a teacher, oftentimes you don't get immediate gratification," Saban said. "Nobody is going to tell you what a great job you're doing but sometimes it takes years later to find out, 'gee, it really worked,' and you did make an impact on students' lives. I want them to know today, that we do appreciate what they do and that they are making a difference.'"

Newly-elected US Senator Katie Britt was the keynote speaker for the event. Britt commended teachers for addressing the issues students face every day.

"Every single one of you are so critical to us being able to reach our full potential," Britt said. "There are challenges you deal with every day in the classroom and in the walls of your school. There's nobody more that can tell you more than the people in this room that what happens in the home comes into the classroom. Thank you for being on the look-out for these children."

Shalena Cannon, a third-grade teacher at Martin L. King, Jr. Elementary said she is grateful to be one of this year's recipients and is proud to represent her school.

"I absolutely love my school and I'm very fortunate and blessed to be employed at MLK," Cannon said. "I feel honored to be chosen for such an award. I go above and beyond for my students, but not only do I do this for my students, the faculty and staff at my school do the same thing for me, so everything is full circle for us."

The award recipients received $500 in gift cards from local businesses that Saban said can be used for personal shopping for the holidays, as well as on items needed for their classrooms and students.

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During the 2022-2023 school year, Tuscaloosa City Schools, along with Townsquare Media Tuscaloosa and Legal Services of Alabama, will highlight Rising Star Character Students of the Month from each school in the district, highlighting two to three students each month.

Here's a recap of the previously recognized students!

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