Kingsport City Schools Announces 2018 Teachers of the Year

Published on April 4, 2018 at 9:40 a.m.

KINGSPORT, Tenn. – Kingsport City Schools has announced its 2018 district-level Teachers of the Year. This year's winners include Ami Frye (grades Pre-K–4), Erica Johnson (grades 5–8), and Sara Shaffer (grades 9–12).

Ami Frye, a 4th grade teacher at Thomas Jefferson Elementary School, has been named the district winner for grades Pre-K–4. Frye has a total of sixteen years teaching experience, with eight years in her present position. She is currently a Literacy Teacher Leader, Lead Mentor Teacher, and co-leader of the Literacy committee at Jefferson Elementary. Frye has also served as a member of the Jefferson Leadership team. She was awarded the Excellence in Leadership Award from Jefferson Elementary during the 2016-17 school year. This is the second time Frye has been selected as a District Teacher of the Year; the first was in 1995-96 at Gordon County Schools (GA).

"Mrs. Frye has excellent rapport with her students and ensures all of her students achieve at high levels by fostering a classroom environment of innovation, creativity and discovery," said Jefferson Elementary Principal Mike Fulkerson. "Students are held accountable for their learning and they demonstrate skills that will support them in the 21st century learning environment. Mrs. Frye has also been instrumental in providing support and mentorship to her peers by leading professional development opportunities at the local and state levels.  She is certainly a team player and an incredible asset to both our school and our system. Mrs. Frye is very deserving of this recognition and to represent Kingsport City Schools as Teacher of the Year.” 

Erica Johnson, a 7th grade English Language Arts teacher at Ross N. Robinson Middle School, has been named the district winner for grades 5–8. Johnson has a total of eight years teaching experience, with five in her present position. Currently, she is serving as Canvas Team Leader, “We are RNR” Action team representative, and  yearbook sponsor at Robinson. She has served on the New Teacher committee,  Language Arts department chair, and has been a member of the RNR Leadership team. Johnson was the recipient of the KCS “Learning Leader” Leadership Award during the 2016-17 school year.

"We are proud Mrs. Johnson is a part of our team here at Robinson," said Robinson Middle School Interim Principal Dr. Jim Wernke. "She is an excellent teacher and a leader within the building and throughout our district.  I have had the luxury to observe her teach engaging, relevant, and cross-disciplinary lessons on a daily basis.  She does an excellent job supporting students in learning,  which allows them to reach high levels.  Without question, Mrs. Johnson is well deserving of the Teacher of the Year recognition."

Sara Shaffer, a digital arts teacher at D-B EXCEL, has been named the district winner for grades 9-12. Shaffer has a total of nine years teaching experience, with two in her present position. She is currently serving as Canvas Lead Teacher, Project-Based Learning coordinator, and webmaster at D-B EXCEL. Shaffer is also a member of the KCS STREAM Leadership team. She was selected to participate in the Competency-Based Education pilot through the TN Department of Education, as well as the Tennessee Micro-Credential pilot. Shaffer was selected to be a member of the 2017-18 Tennessee STEM Innovation Network’s (TSIN) Innovative Leaders Institute and was featured as a Teacher of the Month on the TSIN website. 

“Sara Shaffer expands the role of “teacher” within a school," said D-B EXCEL Principal Shanna Hensley. "For instance, at minimum, I expect her students to surprise professionals within the industry with their knowledge of digital design and mastery, and at maximum… well, she is still pushing those boundaries. Ms. Shaffer has a knack for challenging students and inspiring new curriculum designs that encourage academic growth beyond the parameters of mandated expectations – a teacher’s most sought after ambition."

In addition to the three district winners, 2018 individual school winners are: 

Grades Pre-K–4:

  • Jayson Arnold, 3rd Grade, Washington Elem.
  • Carrie Conkin, 4th Grade, Johnson Elem.
  • Randy Elam, Pre-K, Roosevelt Elem. 
  • Ami Frye, 4th Grade, Jefferson Elem.
  • Whitney Gibson, 2nd Grade, Jackson Elem.
  • Sarah Hall, Pre-K, Palmer Center
  • Patti Smith, 1st Grade, Lincoln Elem.

Grades 5–8:

  • Jeff Frye, 7th Grade Social Studies, Robinson MS
  • Leslie Hardin, 7th and 8th Grade English Language Arts, Sevier MS
  • Erica Johnson, 7th Grade English Language Arts, Robinson MS
  • John Mallick, 8th Grade Social Studies, Sevier MS 
  • Peter Joseph (PJ) Ryan IV, 5th Grade, Kennedy Elem.
  • Amanda Senn, 5th Grade, Adams Elem.

Grades 9–12:

  • Allison Berry, English, Dobyns-Bennett HS
  • Carmen Brooks, English, Dobyns-Bennett HS
  • Luke Douthat, Science, Dobyns-Bennett HS
  • Jana Engle, World Language, Dobyns-Bennett HS
  • Melissa Fields, English, Dobyns-Bennett HS
  • Sara Shaffer, Digital Arts, D-B EXCEL
  • Elizabeth Wilkins, World Language, Dobyns-Bennett HS

School and district-level winners were honored during the Kingsport Board of Education Meeting on Tuesday, April 3, 2018 at 6 p.m. The meeting was held at the Administrative Support Center, Tennessee Room, 400 Clichfield Street, downtown Kingsport.

Kingsport City Schools (KCS) is a public school district located in Kingsport, Tenn., serving students in Sullivan and Hawkins county. The district is comprised of 13 schools, including a Pre-K, eight elementary schools, two middle schools, one high school, a high school program of choice and an alternative learning program; with total enrollment over 7,700 students. The vision of Kingsport City Schools is to be, Student Focused … World Class.

KCS has been named the top school district in Tennessee as winner of the 2014 SCORE Prize District Award by the State Collaborative on Reforming Education (SCORE) and has earned the 2014 Achievement Award in the annual Excellence in Tennessee Recognition Program by the Tennessee Center for Performance Excellence (TNCPE).

For more information on KCS, visit, listen live on WCSK 90.3 FM, The Voice of KCS, read our blog, We Are KCS, download our mobile app for Apple / Android devices or call (423) 378.2100. We’re social too; follow us on Facebook (Kingsport City Schools), Twitter (@KCS_District), LinkedIn (Kingsport City Schools) and check out our YouTube Channel (KPTSchools).