Alpha Delta Kappa Women Educators of Kilgore held a tree planting ceremony at the intersection of Highways 31 and 42 on Thursday morning in recognition of Kilgore ISD’s Teachers of the Year.

Chapter president Jennifer Utzman welcomed educators and guests to the event.

“Welcome to this tree planting ceremony honoring local educators,” Utzman said, noting the planting coincided with Arbor Day, which is traditionally observed April 30, but this year’s celebration was rescheduled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We, the members of the Alpha Rho chapter of Alpha Delta Kappa International Organization of Women Educators, are planting crape myrtle trees today to honor those educators in Kilgore who have been selected as Educator of the Year, Secondary Teacher of the Year, Elementary Teacher of the Year and Campus Teachers of the Year.”

As their names were called, educators were asked to step forward to place a shovelful of dirt around the newly planted tree.

Utzman added she had the option of selecting a white or red crape myrtle for the event and opted for a red one to symbolize the iconic red of KISD’s Bulldogs.

First up was Mike Northcutt, who has taught at KISD for more than 50 years and was recognized by Kilgore’s Chamber of Commerce as Educator of the Year for 2019-2020.

Also honored were:

■ Johna Tritt, Kilgore High School English teacher, who is Secondary Teacher of the Year,

■ Karen Sells-Duckett, a Kilgore Middle School special education teacher who is KMS Teacher of the Year

■ Sara Alfred, music teacher at Chandler Elementary, who is Chandler Teacher of the Year and KISD’s Elementary Teacher of the Year

■ Tracey Smith, fourth grade math and science teacher who is Kilgore Intermediate School’s Teacher of the Year

■ Amy Moffett, kindergarten teacher at Kilgore Primary School, who is that campus’ Teacher of the Year

“We would like to express our deep appreciation to City of Kilgore for providing a location for our trees and for their work crew for assistance with today’s planting,” said Sarah Grasic, ADK’s secretary.

“We also thank Alpha Rho ADK member and Arbor Day Foundation member Betty Fowler who provided the trees for today.”

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