Teach It Forward 2022

Poplar Bluff faculty members named McDonald’s Outstanding Educators
Posted on 12/05/2022
Tony Seabaugh and Ashley Blume.

Two Poplar Bluff elementary teachers have been named 2022 McDonald’s Outstanding Educators across a multi-state service area.

Third grade teacher Ashley Blume of Oak Grove and Teresa Hefner, fifth grade teacher of Lake Road, were selected among 50 top educators, plus five grand prize winners, who were nominated via social media in September.

On Wednesday, Nov. 30, McDonald’s Area Supervisor Tony Seabaugh presented the teachers with $100 Visa gift cards, coffee mugs that read “best teacher ever,” and 25 McDonald’s ‘teach it forward’ coupons to go to students of their choosing.

“We received more than 650 nominations from local community members, parents and fellow educators who told us what makes their favorite teachers the best in the bunch, and you rose to the top as one of the most outstanding educators in our area,” wrote McDonald’s spokesperson Amanda Campbell in an award letter. “Your good deeds and remarkable work with the youth in our community truly make you an outstanding educator.”

With a tenure spanning about 20 years in public education, Hefner has been employed at Lake Road since 2012, before which she taught at Clarkton Schools. Jamaica Putman, the mother of a former student of Hefner’s, was responsible for submitting the nomination.

“Mrs. Hefner goes beyond the call of duty. She ensures that all her students understand what is being taught before moving on,” Putman wrote. “She thoroughly believes in no child left behind. She is kind, caring and knows how to make you smile. She loves her students as if they were her own.”

Blume has taught third grade at Oak Grove Elementary for 12 years, beginning her tenure one year prior at Hefner’s school of Lake Road. Her sister, Shelby Coleman, who is employed by Chartwells at Poplar Bluff High School, made the submission, Blume was surprised to learn during a group text with her family.

“She cares genuinely for her kids and puts all her time and energy [into] teaching them, and goes above and beyond,” Coleman wrote. “She truly deserves this award. I have only good things to say.”

Last year, Aleanna Moore, fourth grade teacher at the Middle School, was named a McDonald’s Outstanding Educator, and third grade teacher Amy Ethridge of O’Neal Elementary received the honor during the program’s inaugural rollout in 2020.

The sponsor of the program is West Plains native Andi Hilburn-Vaini, who owns Poplar Bluff’s three McDonald’s locations, among 28 restaurants total – the largest amount for a female operator within the fast-food chain, according to Campbell.


Cutline: Local McDonald’s supervisor Tony Seabaugh presents third grade teacher Ashley Blume with a certificate on Wednesday, Nov. 30, at Oak Grove.

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