• November 2019- Cori Cunningham Johnson

    Cori Cunningham Johnson

     Cori Johnson

    Year Graduated from FPHS: 2006

    Colleges (s) attended: Northeast Alabama Community College (dual enrollment) and the University of Alabama at Birmingham

    Where did you graduate? Year? Degree(s)? 

    I graduated in 2010 from UAB School of Nursing with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing.  I returned to UAB and graduated in 2014 with a Master of Science in Nursing, specifically with Adult/Geriatric Primary Care Nurse Practitioner and Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner degrees. In 2017 I graduated with my Doctor of Nursing Practice degree from UAB School of Nursing.


    What is your current occupation and Job Title? 

    I am currently an Assistant Professor at the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Nursing.  I teach primarily in the Adult/Geriatric Primary Care Nurse Practitioner Program, which is ranked number 12 in the nation by the U.S. News and World Report.  I also serve as the Rapid Cycle Quality Improvement (RCQI) Expert on two Bureau of Health Workforce grants awarded to the UAB School of Nursing. And I also have a faculty practice as a nurse practitioner, where I see patients in clinic one day a week and specifically provide care to uninsured patients with uncontrolled diabetes.

    Cori Johnson

    What are some of your previous employment positions?

    When I first graduated with my nursing degree, I worked as a bedside nurse in UAB Hospital’s Surgical Intensive Care Unit from 2010-2014.  Then after graduating with my MSN, I worked as a Nurse Practitioner with the Division of Vascular Surgery at UAB from 2014-2017.  While working as a full-time Nurse Practitioner, I pursued my doctoral degree and worked part-time as an Adjunct Clinical Instructor for the School of Nursing. I never intended on teaching when I started my career, but once I started I found out I loved it and there was no turning back.

    How has something you learned at FPHS helped you in your career or life journey? 

    I always ran track and cross country in middle and high school. My running career did not come without its share of injuries and health issues, but these obstacles taught me so much. I was very competitive by nature, so being injured and having to sit out was a struggle for me. Running, in general, is also such a mental sport and staying positive is key. Having to overcome physical and mental battles in running helped me to develop mental strength in many things that I have done since graduation. It is not fun to study or to work hard all of the time, but the mental discipline that running taught me carried over into my scholarly work and personal life, and I know it helped me achieve my goals. I am also thankful to all of the coaches who pushed me throughout the years.

    What was your favorite high school class at FPHS?

    My favorite classes were math classes (algebra, geometry, calculus). I have always been a numbers person. I also loved Mr. Guice’s anatomy class.

    Who was your favorite teacher at FPHS and why? 

    It is so hard to choose just one because I loved so many of them! One that stands out in my mind is Mrs. Jane Crum.  She taught me all of the math classes I listed, except for one. She was always so positive and lively when she taught. She truly loved math (and her students) and it showed.

    What is your favorite memory from high school? Or a special story you would like to share?

    My favorite times were spent with my cross country and track teammates. I have so many wonderful memories of practices in all sorts of weather, long early morning bus rides, and meets located all over the state. As a team, we won together, lost together, and felt like we were going to die from exhaustion together. These were such great memories that you don’t fully appreciate until they are over forever.

    What advice would you give to current high school students about education and pursuing their future careers?

    You don’t have to know what career you want to do or what major you want to pursue in college when you graduate.  It is also okay to think you know and change your mind. I thought I wanted to be a doctor until I worked as an aid in the hospital and found out I wanted to be a nurse.  Then I thought I always wanted to be a nurse until I discovered I loved teaching too. Whatever you do, love it and do it well. That is a true accomplishment.  And if you love multiple jobs as I did, then find a way to combine multiple jobs into one! My personal philosophy that kept me working hard even when I didn’t want to was, “play now and pay later, or pay now and play later. You can set yourself up for a better life if you stay focused on your future now. Set goals and don’t give up.

  • October 2019- Andrew Hairston

    Andrew J. Hairston

    Andrew Hairston

    Year Graduated from FPHS: 2003

    Colleges (s) attended: Northeast Alabama Community College, Jacksonville State University, and Birmingham School of Law.

    Where did you graduate? Year? Attended Northeast Alabama Community College and received a BA in Criminal Justice and History from Jacksonville State University in December 2008.  I graduated with a Juris Doctorate in 2012 from Birmingham School of Law. 

    Degree(s)? Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice and History from Jacksonville State University in December 2008.  I graduated with a Juris Doctorate in 2012 from Birmingham School of Law. 


    What is your current occupation and Job Title?

    I am a Circuit Judge for the Ninth Judicial Circuit of Alabama.  The Ninth Judicial Circuit covers all of DeKalb County and all of Cherokee County.  I preside primarily over felony criminal cases, civil cases and domestic relations cases. 

    Prior to being elected as a Circuit Judge, I was a lawyer at White, Arnold, and Dowd, P.C. in Birmingham, Alabama from 2012-2015.  From 2015 until 2019, I had my own private law practice in Fort Payne.  As part of my private practice, I was the Municipal Judge for the City of Fort Payne and Town of Geraldine.  I was also the Municipal Prosecutor for the Town of Sylvania and the Municipal Public Defender for the City of Rainsville. 

    How has something you learned at FPHS helped you in your career or life journey?

    FPHS gave me confidence in myself that I needed to chase my professional dreams.  The teachers, administration, and staff at FPHS always believed in me and always supported my goals.  They also taught me that it is ‘ok’ to fail, as long as you learn from the failure.  They also offered discipline, when needed, and I am probably most thankful for that.  I now consider many of my former teachers to be among my closest friends.

    What was your favorite high school class at FPHS?

    My favorite class was Government and Economics with Jeff Boatwright.  That was the first time that I realized I had an interest in government and how it worked.  We live in the most exceptional country in the world.  But, if we do not learn from the past, we will fail in the future.  That class challenged me to study history and understand what has worked and what has not.  To this day, I use many of the foundational principles learned in that class.

    Who was your favorite teacher at FPHS and why? 

    Selecting my favorite teacher is difficult, only because I had so many.

    What is your favorite memory from high school? Or a special story you would like to share?

    My favorite memory from FPHS would, without a doubt, be the days immediately following the September 11 terrorist attacks on our Country.  I was in Spanish class when the office assistant brought by the roll sheet (that’s what we did before computers were in every class!) and told us that a plane had hit the World Trade Center.  In the days following, the students and teachers at the school became so close because we all realized the value, and brevity, of life.  At that time, there were no rich kids or poor kids, no conservative kids or liberal kids – we were all the same.  It was a feeling and environment that I will never forget.        

    What advice would you give to current high school students about education and pursuing their future careers? 

    The best advice I can give to current FPHS students is this:

    1. Be YOURSELF.  It’s alright to be different.
    2. Pray.  Pray for your fellow students.  Pray for your teachers.  And, pray for your school.   You have a soul – God gave it to you.  So, be careful with it.  High School will only last four years, but the decisions you make in those four years will stay with you for a lifetime.

  • September 2019- Zach Wilson

    Zach Wilson

    Zach Wilson

    Year Graduated from FPHS: 2011

    Colleges (s) attended: Southern Union State Community College/ Auburn University

    Where did you graduate? Year? Auburn University, 2015

    Degree(s)? Bachelor of Science in Business Administration (Accountancy)

    What is your current occupation? Accountant/Chief Clerk - Dekalb County Judge of Probate/ Public Accountant - Reed’s Tax


    How has something you learned at FPHS helped you in your career or life journey? 

    I learned the importance of hard work through athletics and my education. I had great coaches and teachers who taught this concept. Hard work and determination will take you places in life.  

    What was your favorite high school class at FPHS?

    Anatomy with Mrs. Jennings was one of my favorite classes. It was an interesting and informative class. Anatomy is a challenging subject and I feel like the class format prepared me for college courses.

    Who was your favorite teacher at FPHS and why? 

    Mrs. Barnes was one of the best teachers I had while at FPHS. It was evident that she genuinely cared for each student and wanted to see them succeed. I can remember Mrs. Barnes taking time to help me with scholarship applications my senior year.

    I would also say Mrs. Goggans was at the top of the list. I was lucky enough to have her for a few different math classes. I have always enjoyed math and she was instrumental in building my understanding of the subject.

    What is your favorite memory from high school?

    My favorite memory would be playing in playoff baseball games. I loved the atmosphere and the competition. It was win or go home.

    What advice would you give to current high school students about education and pursuing their future careers? 

    Learn to be organized and how to multi-task. College will teach you the importance of time management which will be a factor in any career path a person chooses to pursue. Try to make good contacts and take advantage of internship opportunities.

     

  • August 2019- Gabriela Limon Gaspar

    Gabriela Limon Gaspar

    August 2019- Gabriela Limon Gaspar

    Year Graduated from FPHS: 2007

    Colleges (s) attended: Northeast Alabama Community College/Jacksonville State University

    Where did you graduate? Year? Jacksonville State University, 2011

    Degree(s)? Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education

    What is your current occupation? 3rd grade EL Teacher at Williams Avenue Elementary School


    How has something you learned at FPHS helped you in your career or life journey?

    I was a part of the FPHS Band Program. My involvement in the band program taught me a great deal of discipline, commitment, and perseverance. I have carried that with me into the classroom. I try to teach my students those qualities so they know never to give up even when things get tough in school or at home.  I always make sure my students know they can count on me for anything because I was in their shoes once.

    What was your favorite high school class at FPHS?

    I loved almost all of my classes at FPHS. One that I remember the most was French class with Mrs. Brandon. I enjoyed learning a third language and seeing all the similarities in French and Spanish. I also loved English class with Mrs. Ables even though we had to memorize some of Shakespeare’s soliloquies. 

    Who was your favorite teacher at FPHS and why? 

    I don’t think I could just choose one. So many teachers had a positive impact on me in High School. Mrs. Rogers, my band director was strict but at the same time, she showed all of her band students how much she cared. I also loved having Mrs. Brandon, Mrs. Ables, Mrs. Sayre, and Mrs. Shugart. They were all equally encouraging and motivated me to do my best.

    I also feel like I need to mention Mrs. Colburn my fourth-grade teacher at Williams Avenue Elementary School although she was not one of my high school teachers, she was a part of my journey here in the Fort Payne City Schools. She is the first teacher that inspired me to become an educator. She was truly dedicated I admire her greatly for that.

    What is your favorite memory from high school? Or a special story you would like to share?

    I have two favorite memories from my senior year in FPHS. I will never forget my last marching band competition in Hoover, AL. It was my last ever performance with the band and so many emotions were going through my head. We received all superior ratings in every category in the hardest competition of the time. I remember crying because it felt amazing that our hard work paid off.

    Another favorite memory was being a part of the FPHS Senior Play, Hansel and Gretel with Mrs. Woods and Mr. Crawford. Working alongside my classmates and teachers to put on a play was a great experience. We helped each other with lines and we trusted each other once we were ready to perform. It was such a fun play and I will never forget it.

     August 2019- Gabriela Limon Gaspar August 2019- Gabriela Limon Gaspar

    What advice would you give to current high school students about education and pursuing their future careers? 

    My advice would be to get involved in everything that interests you. It does not matter if your friends do not have the same interests, sometimes you have to do things just for you. When I was in high school there were not many Latino(a)s involved in many things and I was often nervous about joining different clubs, groups, programs etc., but I’m glad I put my fears aside and got involved because having different experiences helped me decide what I truly wanted to do after high school. You all have so many different classes that were not offered a few years back, take advantage of all the opportunities that you are offered. All the experiences that I went through in high school help me in my career today.

    *Never Give Up*