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Why a 'Teacher of the Year' quit education after 21 years
Ann Marie Corgill was awarded Alabama's 2014-15 Teacher of the Year, but bureaucracy made her quit, NPR reported. - photo by Payton Davis
Ann Marie Corgill took home Alabama's 2014-15 Teacher of the Year award and was a finalist for the national accolade, but a "wall of bureaucracy" proved too brutal to keep colliding into, according to NPR.

So Corgill resigned from her post as a fifth-grade teacher at Oliver Elementary in Birmingham, Alabama, and Bill Chappell wrote for NPR her move "has made waves in the education community and beyond."

Valerie Strauss wrote for The Washington Post that Corgill taught second grade at the beginning of this academic year before being moved to take over a fifth-grade class. Then Alabama's Department of Education informed her she lacked qualifications to teach fifth grade.

The department stated it didn't ask Corgill to resign, according to The Washington Post.

However, her letter of resignation detailed her decision to quit anyway.

"After 21 years of teaching in grades 1-6, I have no answers as to why this is a problem now, so instead of paying more fees, taking more tests and proving once again that I am qualified to teach, I am resigning," The Post quoted Corgill's letter as reading.

Neal Colgrass noted for Newser whether Corgill had the qualifications or not is up for debate: Corgill's National Board Certification permitted her to teach students between ages 7 and 12. But Oliver Elementary a Title I school requires all teachers to be "highly qualified" because it receives federal money.

How the department defined "highly qualified" concerned Corgill, according to Newser.

"When the news came that I was not considered highly qualified, my frustration boiled over," Newser quoted Corgill as saying.

Adam Ganucheau wrote for Corgill faced other issues. The school district failed to pay her until Oct. 23, two months after the academic year's start, and she received no explanation from district officials.

In her letter, Corgill wrote she hoped to continue to contribute to education in Birmingham, but that the district must work to make its teachers feel trusted and valued, according to

"Please know that I wanted to give my all and share my expertise with Birmingham City Schools," quoted Corgill as saying. "In order to attract and retain the best teachers, we must feel trusted, valued and treated as professionals. It is my hope that my experience can inform new decisions, policies and procedures to make Birmingham City Schools a place everyone wants to work and learn."

Rachel Smith wrote for The Independent about the reactions by leaders in education.

Alice King, a New York-based education consultant, told The Independent Corgill's resignation was "crazy" and that state authorities' pressure on Corgill, a published author, was interesting.

The Washington Post's piece noted Corgill isn't the first notable teacher to resign in 2015. Stacie Starr, a ninth-grade intervention specialist in Ohio, won the "Top Teacher" accolade awarded by the TV show "Live with Kelly and Michael."

But Starr announced she was quitting education earlier this year.

"Why? Teachers, she said, can no longer be creative because they have to teach to standardized tests so much," The Post's report read. "Its all about 'drill and kill,' and even the most creative teachers, she said, are being affected."

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