Christian Business Connections recently celebrated this year’s Shining Light Teacher Award presentation. The finalists were Terri Fellers and Kimberly Oates (finalists/Bell Shoals Baptist Academy/top), Kathy Metz (winner/Foundation Christian Academy/middle), Julie Pollock (finalist/St. Stephens Catholic School/lower left) and Kathleen Greenberg (finalist/Nativity Catholic School/lower right).

Christian Business Connections (CBC), a faith-based business networking group located in Brandon, celebrated the 2021 Shining Light Teacher Award presentation last month. The Shining Light Teacher Award spotlights the extraordinary educators that serve students in Christian schools in the area.

The premise for the award is founded on Titus 2:7-8: “In everything set them an example by doing what is good. In your teaching show integrity, seriousness and soundness of speech that cannot be condemned, so that those who oppose you may be ashamed because they have nothing bad to say about us.”

“CBC began this award in 2017 but was unable to provide a winner last year due to COVID,” said Ryan Hughes, founding member of CBC. “We were happy to bring the award back this year.”

The Shining Light Teacher Award process begins with peer nominations within the participating Christian schools. The school administration forwards the nominees to interview with a board of CBC members who select the winners based on certain criteria, including Christian leadership, commitment to educational excellence and their impact in students’ lives. All winners were visited individually for the award presentations.

“There is no cost for schools to participate and all awards are donated by local businesses,” said Hughes. “Principals from interested schools can reach out to me for more details for next year.”

The 2021 finalists were Terri Fellers and Kimberly Oates from Bell Shoals Baptist Academy, Julie Pollock from St. Stephen Catholic School and Kathleen Greenberg from Nativity Catholic School.

This year’s Shining Light Teacher Award winner was Kathy Metz, kindergarten teacher at Foundation Christian Academy. Metz, a mother of two daughters, has taught kindergarten at Foundation Christian Academy since 2010. She is a highly requested teacher because of her reputation as a Christian and an excellent reading coach. Metz partners with parents to help students grow academically, emotionally and spiritually.

She has taught while battling cancer and also while caring for her ill parents and father-in-law, and she continued to teach while dealing with the loss of those parents, losing her home to a fire and caring for a husband with major health issues. She’s a team player and a child advocate. Metz is one of the many deserving teachers showing up with a happy heart for her students each and every day.

If you are a business or individual that is willing to donate or become involved with this outstanding program or want more information on the CBC’s Shining Light Teacher Award and how your school can participate, email or visit

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Kelly Wise Valdes has been writing for the Osprey Observer since 2008. She graduated in 1989 from Florida Southern College with a B.S. in Communications and enjoys writing and traveling. She currently resides in northern Hillsborough County with her husband, David. When not traveling and writing, Kelly and her husband enjoy spending time with their five grown children (as well as their grandchildren) that still keep them very busy.