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Rice named ‘Teacher of the Year’ at James Clemens

MADISON – Gina Rice, “Teacher of the Year” at James Clemens High School, started teaching with Camp Lejeune Dependent’s Schools at Brewster Middle School in 1990.

“My fellow teachers at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina were both some of the toughest and kindest people I’ve known. I was learning how to become a good teacher and learning how to run a military family,” Rice said. “I was lucky to start my teaching career in the perfect place to teach me both skills.”

Her fellow teachers “knew what it felt like to juggle schoolwork and missing a deployed loved one. These teachers modeled every day how to love and inspire students when they faced months of deployment time away from mom or dad.”

After five years, the Rices were reassigned to New Orleans. She taught at Lucille Cherbonnier Elementary School in Westwego, La.  

“My husband William and I decided to start a family, and I stayed home with my three children for the next 15 years,” Rice said. William completed numerous deployments, and the family moved five times.  

When William retired from the U.S. Marines, the family decided to relocate to the Madison/Huntsville area. “I returned to work in 2011 as a math tutor with Madison City Schools,” Rice said.

In 2013, Rice re-entered the classroom at Columbia Elementary School with students with specific learning disabilities. The next year, she was hired at James Clemens High School, where she has worked as a collaborative teacher.  

Actually, the Rices have lived twice in Madison: Four years when William was stationed on Redstone Arsenal, along with their return in 2011 for “incredible job opportunities and wonderful quality of life.” 

At East Carolina University, Gina earned bachelor and master’s degrees in special education. “I grew up in the country … riding horses and playing outside. I was blessed to live with a very extended family of my grandparents, great-grandmother and great-aunt.” 

At James Clemens, she supports Best Buddies, the only school chapter in Alabama. “Best Buddies is growing and aimed at making an inclusive environment for all children at school and in communities to make and maintain friendships,” Gina said.

She also sponsors Jet Connections club, a forum for social issues students may encounter in high school.  

Rice also appreciates outreach from fellow Madison teachers. “At Columbia, I had two wonderful teachers who allowed me daily to ask 1,000,001 questions about policies, paperwork and students.”

James Clemens teachers inspired Rice “to do my best and always do the best for our students. (I’ve) seen former students head to college, into the workforce and start their own families. I’m only as successful as my students become.”

William works with Missile Defense on Redstone Arsenal. Their children are Taylor, a recent Auburn University graduate; Meredith, an incoming Auburn freshman; and Jack, a high-school sophomore.

Gina’s hobbies include gardening, reading, running and spending time with my family and “our sweet basset hound, Simon.” 

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