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Hartselle Educator Hall of Fame announces 2020 inductees

The Hartselle Educator Hall of Fame has announced its selections for the Class of 2020.

The Educator Hall of Fame was established to honor individuals who have made a significant contribution to the education of students who have attended Hartselle schools. The inductees are Sabrina Buettner, Martha Dunlap, Maureen Matson, Larry Peck and Debbie Smith.

Sabrina Oden Buettner

Buettner’s career as a public school educator spans 39 years. All but two of those years were spent at the Hartselle Junior High School as a sixth-grade English teacher and later as assistant principal.

A highlight from her career was a three-week trip to Japan, where she served as a delegate from the Fulbright Memorial Fund Teacher Program.

Other honors include American Legion Teacher of the Year and Hartselle Jaycees Outstanding Young Educator Runner-up.

Many former students remember Buettner as a teacher who encouraged them to work out their problems and experience success. Much of her time was used to talk individually with students who needed an extra boost. Words to describe her would include excellent organizational skills, effective leadership qualities and a special ability to communicate well.

Martha Dunlap

Dunlap, a Lawrence County native, spent more than 37 years in education. Dunlap retired in 2011 from Crestline Elementary School. The majority of her career, 32 years, was spent at Crestline Elementary School in Hartselle. All but two years of her span at Crestline was as a kindergarten teacher.

Well loved by students and parents alike, she made learning fun.

A fellow educator and friend said of Dunlap, “From singing and dancing to cooking and other hands-on activities, her students soaked up everything she presented to them. Her greatest asset as a teacher was the love she had for her students.”

Her students remember her as kind, dedicated to her job and possessing a great sense of humor, and many have become adult friends with their former teacher.

Maureen Matson

Matson taught kindergarten at Barkley Bridge Elementary School from 1997 until she retired in 2018. She received numerous honors during her teaching career in Hartselle, including being selected as Walmart’s Teacher of the Year in 2001, being honored in 2012 by Channel 19 with the Tools for Teachers Award, winning Barkley Bridge’s Teacher of the Year award in 2013 and winning Hartselle City Schools’ Teacher of the Year in 2014.

Matson was noted for her willingness to go the extra mile to ensure her students’ success. She always spoke of her students as “her own” and attended countless numbers of their activities outside of school. Her passion for teaching was truly remarkable.

Larry Peck

Peck spent 27 years of his coaching career at Hartselle. He served as an assistant football coach and physical education instructor at the high school and was also boys strength and conditioning coach at the junior high for five years.

Peck was head wrestling coach at the high school for nine years. He was the high school football team’s defensive coordinator for 19 years, and during that time, Hartselle became noted for its defensive prowess.

Hartselle usually doesn’t have a lot of big lineman, and Peck changed the defense to a formation that best utilized the smaller, quicker players the school had. Hartselle won the 2011 5A State Football Championship, and Peck’s defense played a major role in that title, giving up an average of 9.3 points per game.

He was selected as the Alabama Football Coaches Association 2011 5A Assistant Coach of the Year.

In 2013 Peck was inducted into the Colbert County Sports Hall of Fame, and he was a 2018 inductee of the Morgan County Sports Hall of Fame.

Coach Peck served as a positive role model for the hundreds of young men he coached and is loved and respected by them and the Hartselle community.

Debbie Smith

Smith is a retiree of Hartselle Junior High School, where she taught science to sixth-grade students for 33 years. She was a “hands-on” teacher, involving her students in a variety of classroom experiments, and she developed an outdoor classroom at The Tabernacle that was used extensively.

Her students, their parents and other volunteers cleared brush, built bridges and made trails to develop the outdoor classroom. She instilled into her students a love of the outdoors and nature and the importance of conserving natural resources.

Smith’s chemistry show at Halloween was a favorite day for her students and one they still remember as adults.

Among her awards are Jaycees Outstanding Young Educator, American Legion Educator of the Year and Alabama’s Environment Education Teacher of the Year.

These educators will be inducted into the HEHOF Feb. 8 at the fifth annual Hall of Fame Banquet at the Ministry Center at First United Methodist Church of Hartselle. Tickets are available at a cost of $25 each and may be purchased at the Hartselle City Schools Central Office.


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