Effingham County’s 2014-15 teacher of the year took a non-traditional route into the education field.
Ashley Kieffer was a business owner in the county for several years, and he often worked with students through an industry outreach program. He realized how much he enjoyed making a difference in young people’s lives.
Kieffer sold his business, earned his teaching certification and began his new career as a business education teacher at South Effingham High School in 2008. He is currently the director of business logistics management at the Effingham College and Career Academy.
The teachers of the year from each Effingham County school were honored Thursday at a banquet hosted by the Effingham Herald and Effingham County Board of Education. The final introduction was saved for Kieffer, as the countywide teacher of the year.
“I always like to put my students first, and I would’ve been just as happy to have had them up here accepting the award,” Kieffer said. “I know the teachers that I went up against are all excellent, and how I came out on top I don’t know, but it is humbling and I’m excited about it.”
ECCA’s logistics program, the first of its kind in Georgia, is now in its third year. The program had 22 students in its first year, tripled to 66 students last year and boasts 91 this year, according to Kieffer.
A key component of the logistics program is ECCA’s partnership with the non-profit organization First Book, to provide new books to less-fortunate children. The logistics students store thousands of books in an Effingham County School System warehouse and process orders to be shipped to children locally and across the U.S., giving the high school students real-world experience in all facets of supply chain management.
“The students love the program. Their parents love the program,” Kieffer said. “It is a lot of work, and our First Book program is just amazing, and the students really love that hands-on experience.”
The teacher of the year from each Effingham County school received a plaque and gift. Along with Kieffer, this year’s honorees are:
Blandford Elementary — Jessica Sauerland
Ebenezer Elementary — Sharon Crosby
Ebenezer Middle — Nicole Davis-Edwards
Effingham County High — Jenni Deloach
Effingham County Middle — Ginger Kessler
Guyton Elementary — Mindy Fountain
Marlow Elementary — Cheryl Bacon
Rincon Elementary — Emily Whitlock
Sand Hill Elementary — Eleasha Donaldson
South Effingham Elementary – Jane Brown
South Effingham High — Terry Stautberg
South Effingham Middle — Janee’ Wells
Springfield Elementary — Melissa Phillips
“Not everyone can say they made a difference in the life of a child – every day,” Superintendent Randy Shearouse said to the teachers. “But you can.”
Teacher of the year profiles
Beginning Oct. 15, the Effingham Herald will run weekly features on the teachers of the year from each school. County teacher of the year Ashley Kieffer will be spotlighted in the Herald’s annual Countywide special edition in late November.