By Thomas Sellers Jr.
Millington Central High School Biology teacher Sheila Pugh finds ways to use her time wisely.
She first popped on the scene as an active part of the Millington community about four years ago helping in the fund raising drive for a playground at Millington Elementary.
The parent/substitute teacher joined the academic staff at MCHS about two years ago. In that short amount of time she has impressed her colleagues and several in the community winning the 2018 Millington Star Readers’ Choice Teacher of the Year.
With voting online at www.millington-news.com this past January, Pugh racked up hundreds of votes to receive the honor.
“Very humbling,” she said. “I was so surprised. I knew that we have selected Coach Carter as our Teacher of the Year. So I thought it was a mistakes, but Dr. Durley and the administrators informed me it was from the local paper.”
Pugh said the honor of winning The Millington Star award was amplified with William Carter winning the Millington Municipal Schools prize. Carter is currently on active duty preparing to go overseas to serve the country.
Another MCHS instructor to win a Teacher of the Year Award was Katherine Watkins with the nationwide Milken Family Foundation recognition.
“To be mention among them is amazing,” Pugh said. “We have so many wonderful teachers deserving in our school. I’m just overwhelmed to be one of the winners. I’m very proud to be representing our school.”
Pugh, said as a fairly new instructor, she has depended on the veteran resources around her to adjust so quickly.
“The admin and teachers who have been here have been extremely supportive,” she noted. “I am the Queen of 20 Questions. If I am going to do something, I’m going to do it right. But if it’s not right the first time, there is somebody here who can help me fix that.
“The master teachers who are here for us new guys coming in, just the seasoned teachers who have done this for many, many years,” Pugh continued. “Nobody has ever been leery of helping me. They are very willing to help.”
That approach has become contiguous with Pugh volunteering with booster clubs, on school projects and even spending time this summer with Suan Sprunger’s STEM Camp.
“There are some projects that pass by and you feel like this is best where I should put my time and energy,” Pugh said. “You can’t do everything that crosses your way. God has just put people in my life who helped me. Nothing I’ve done by myself. The playground project and raising the money, that was a village. Lots of people helped with that and a lot of the wonderful things done here are done by a village.”
Before joining the village in Millington, Pugh’s spirit of educating and volunteering spread across the state. After graduating from her family’s school Collierville High School, Pugh attended University of Tennessee at Martin and graduated with an animal science degree.
After getting married, she lived in Knoxville while her husband finished his master’s and went on to finish his Doctorate of veterinary medicine. Meanwhile Pugh worked as a substitute teacher and in pharmaceutical sales for Merck & Company.
The Pugh family moved back to this side of the state in 2007. A few years later Pugh had a chance to work at the school her husband graduated from in 1996.
“I had the privilege of becoming the new biology teacher at MCHS and have enjoyed it very much,” she said. “There are some amazing students in our building and I cannot wait to see what the future holds for them. There have definitely been some difficult days and many ups and downs but I feel like I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be. It is quite a humbling thing when The Millington Star readers agree.”
Pugh said she receives encouragement daily from her peers. But winning an award given by the public is extra reinsurance.
“It’s great to get support from your colleagues and the parents,” she said. “It’s two very different level. It’s on two very different extremes. Prospection from the people you work with every single day. They see you in a different light vs. the parents.
“When those two see the same thing, it’s an added bonus,” Pugh concluded. “I am certainly not perfect and I have a long way to go and a lot of stuff to work on. But this does help with the long hours that are put in, that it is recognized by the outside as well by the inside.”
By Thomas Sellers Jr.