By Ally Morrison
Homewood City Schools recently announced its Teacher of the Year award recipients.
Elementary Teacher of the Year was granted to Genie Christian, a physical education teacher at Shades Cahaba Elementary School.
Secondary Teacher of the Year was awarded to Claudia Sale-Casalino, of Homewood High School. Sale-Casalino teaches in the world languages area and focuses primarily in the Spanish and English learner subjects.
According to the director of communications at Homewood City Schools, Merrick Wilson, a seven-member level selection committee met to review applications to select award recipients.
Christian has taught physical education at Shades Cahaba Elementary School for 13 years. She has been recognized by the school system as a Teacher Impact Award recipient for her commitment to her students and community.
According to Wilson, Christian takes pride in her classroom being a space of comfort, respect, acceptance and fun.
Through physical education and activity, Christian has helped students with physical, emotional, behavioral and learning disabilities or impairments to be successful.
In addition to her main job, Christian has helped start and assist with many extracurricular activities for students and staff to promote healthy relationships between their minds and bodies.
She currently is a cross-country and track and field coach at Homewood Middle School.
Christian is dedicated to experimenting with new methods and resources to keep students engaged and active. Under her leadership, her school was awarded the Be Healthy Schools Blue Cross and Blue Shield Grant in 2015.
“Coach Christian is the type of teacher every parent wants their child to experience,” Shades Cahaba Principal Wendy Story said. “We are fortunate that all of our students have this opportunity to learn and be supported by such an amazing educator. Coach Christian speaks about our students as if they were her own and takes an active interest in their learning within and outside the walls of the gymnasium.”
Sale-Casalino began her teaching career in 2007 at Homewood Middle School, and in 2016 she became a Spanish and EL teacher at Homewood High School.
During her time at the middle school, Sale-Casalino completed her master’s degree in English as a second language at UAB.
At the age of 23 without knowing English, Sale-Casalino emigrated to the United
States from Argentina in search of opportunity, and she refused to allow the barrier of language to hold her back.
She currently works with English language learners, individualizing instructions to meet the linguistic, academic and cultural needs of her students. She is known for her creativity and knowledge, which she uses alongside her personal experiences to make learning meaningful to her students.
Wilson stated that no matter the subject, Sale-Casalino teaches, her philosophy has been to be a role model to her students and to make students feel welcome.
Sale-Casalino serves many leadership roles at Homewood High, including sponsor of the Arabic Club, Heritage Panel and Library Advisory Committee.
“As a teacher of English language learners, she relates to students across a spectrum of cultural backgrounds,” HHS Assistant Principal Latta Johnston said. “She does this by getting to know students and their parents. She excels at making connections with families and is active in the community, where she fosters relationships outside of school. These relationships help her connect with and motivate her students.”
Teacher of the Year awards at the campus level were:
Edgewood Elementary – Michelle Graves
Hall-Kent Elementary – Brooklyn Scoggins
Homewood Middle – Mary Paris