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2019 Teacher of the Year School Winner Profiles

Beginning on Nov. 9, 2018, each week we'll be adding a profile and photo of a school-level winner to this page!

Special thanks to our "Legacy Makers" Presenting Sponsors: Cherokee County Educational Foundation, Credit Union of Georgia, Northside Hospital Cherokee and Shottenkirk Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram of Canton!

ACE Academy 2019 Teacher of the Year: Pete Godfrey

ACE Academy 2019 TOTY Pete Godfrey

Celebrating at “Legacy Makers: CCSD Teachers of the Year Celebration” are, from left to right, Superintendent of Schools Dr. Brian V. Hightower, ACE Academy 2019 Teacher of the Year Pete Godfrey and Assistant Principal Alan Diaz.

Pete Godfrey leads in the classroom as an excellent educator, but it’s on the basketball court where he makes what may be his greatest impact on students.

It’s there that the ACE Academy 2019 Teacher of the Year connects and engages with kids, coaching them with the care and respect that will influence their decision to stay in school and score future successes.  Mr. Godfrey lobbied for the formation of the school youth recreational league basketball team, which began playing in 2015 and for which he serves as head coach.

“He’s making a difference in those boys’ lives as a coach, teacher and mentor,” a colleague said.

Mr. Godfrey’s passion for coaching is what led him to leave his career in the insurance industry 15 years ago to become a teacher and coach and earn his master’s and two specialist degrees in education.  For the last seven years, he’s served as a special education teacher at ACE Academy.  

In his own words: “The basketball team is instrumental in keeping some of these young men in school and assuring their graduation.  It gives the students and the faculty a sense of pride in seeing their team and their students out on the court.”

 

Arnold Mill Elementary School 2019 Teacher of the Year: Brooke McMullen

Arnold Mill ES TOTY 2019

Celebrating at “Legacy Makers: CCSD Teachers of the Year Celebration” are, from left to right, Superintendent of Schools Dr. Brian V. Hightower, Arnold Mill Elementary School 2019 Teacher of the Year Brooke McMullen and Principal Dan Fuller.

Teacher Brooke McMullen’s second-graders master more than State academic performance standards during their year in her Arnold Mill Elementary School classroom.

They master social and emotional learning, too, and make a new friend for life in their teacher, who, for her dedication to each child, has earned her colleagues’ admiration and the title of Teacher of the Year.

Ms. McMullen, who has taught for 10 years at Arnold Mill – kindergarten, and now, second grade, calls her technique for connecting with students, “wayside teaching.” On the way into class, she greets them by name, a high-five and a question that shows she’s paying attention: “Did you lose that tooth yet?” “How was your football game last night?” And at the end of the day, the class holds an “afternoon meeting” to share problems – both academic and personal -- and help each other solve them.

“In her classroom, the students know that over anything, they are loved,” a colleague said. “This is what helps her students to thrive in her classroom. She provides them with a relationship.”

In her own words: “Along with the many roles teachers have to fill, one of the most important roles is to be each student’s champion – to believe in each and every student and make a positive impact each day in their lives.”

 

Avery Elementary School 2019 Teacher of the Year: Bonnie Smith                              
Avery ES TOTY 2019

Celebrating at “Legacy Makers: CCSD Teachers of the Year Celebration” are, from left to right, Superintendent of Schools Dr. Brian V. Hightower, Avery Elementary School 2019 Teacher of the Year Bonnie Smith and Principal Dr. Lisa Turner.

A special U.S. flag hangs in the main hallway of Avery Elementary School that symbolizes the impact of its Teacher of the Year, Bonnie Smith.

Ms. Smith’s first-graders each year “adopt” deployed service members as pen pals. Through the project, the students improve their writing skills, while also learning the importance of citizenship and service.

Each year, the lesson proves one of the most memorable for students, as they eagerly await responses from their pen pals and collect donations to send them care packages. The Pledge of Allegiance, the National Anthem, Veterans Day and Memorial Day… all became more meaningful.

Several years ago, one of the soldiers, whose aunt is a teacher at Avery, arranged a special thank-you. A U.S. flag flown over the soldiers’ barracks in Afghanistan was presented to the school during a ceremony in the cafeteria – where the students met their pen pals in person! It was, according to Ms. Smith, “nothing less than magical.”

The same could be said of Ms. Smith, a 25-year educator: “In addition to being a fantastic teacher,” one colleague said, “she’s shaping her class into caring individuals.”

In her own words: “My beliefs about teaching are demonstrated in this lesson because learning must be real, meaningful, valuable and pertinent to the students.”
 

Ball Ground ES STEM Academy 2019 Teacher of the Year: Lisa Nations

ball ground es stem academy toty 2019

Celebrating at “Legacy Makers: CCSD Teachers of the Year Celebration” are, from left to right, Superintendent of Schools Dr. Brian V. Hightower, Ball Ground ES STEM Academy Teacher of the Year Lisa Nations and Principal Dr. Christian Kirby.

Lisa Nations is a rock for Ball Ground Elementary School STEM Academy and her community.

A Cherokee County School District graduate and 35-year educator, Ms. Nations has fulfilled her childhood dream of being a teacher and making a positive impact on generations of Ball Ground children.

Today, she not only teaches the children of former students, she also teaches alongside former students, as four have chosen to work at Ball Ground ES STEM Academy with her.

“Lisa, in my opinion, is one of the chosen who was ‘called’ as a young girl in to the teaching career and has fulfilled her calling to the highest expectation,” one parent shared.

Ms. Nations’ legacy extends beyond the classroom, as she has taught many more children in basketball and softball as their coach, in Scouts as their leader, and in Sunday school and Vacation Bible School as their teacher. And she did all this for many years as a single mom to two after the tragic loss of her husband to cancer. As one parent shared: “There can’t be enough praise for Lisa.”

In her own words: “Teachers who feel their choice to be a teacher was a calling put in the long hours without complaining. They want to work with students to help them learn.”

 

Bascomb Elementary School 2019 Teacher of the Year: Leslie Kreiger

Bascomb Elementary School: Leslie Kreiger

Celebrating at “Legacy Makers: CCSD Teachers of the Year Celebration” are, from left to right, Superintendent of Schools Dr. Brian V. Hightower, Bascomb Elementary School Teacher of the Year Leslie Kreiger and Principal Kathleen Chandler.

When new kindergartners walk through the door of teacher Leslie Kreiger’s Bascomb Elementary School classroom, they find themselves eye-to-eye with her.  

She kneels to connect with them at their level on their first day in a big new world of learning – one of many small details on her part that make a huge difference for students, according to parents.

“This little gesture eased the anxiety of those kids and, right away, they felt more at ease,” one parent said.  “As a parent, I loved seeing how friendly and kind she was welcoming our son to his new classroom.  Now, at the beginning of each new school year, I am always excited to see which one of my friends gets to experience the joy it is to have Mrs. Kreiger as a teacher for their child.”

A 22-year teacher, Ms. Kreiger’s care for her students and colleagues and her own continued growth -- like her current studies to become certified as an English for Speakers of Other Languages teacher and her adoption of a social-emotional learning mindset -- led her colleagues to name her Teacher of the Year.  It’s her third time to earn this title, having previously won at Boston and Little River Elementary Schools. 

In her own words: “I have spent my career fostering a sense of family within my classroom.”
 

Boston Elementary School 2019 Teacher of the Year: Lori Moore 

Boston Elementary School: Lori Moore 

Celebrating at “Legacy Makers: CCSD Teachers of the Year Celebration” are, from left to right, Superintendent of Schools Dr. Brian V. Hightower, Boston Elementary School Teacher of the Year Lori Moore and Principal Valerie Lowery.

Lori Moore headed to college with plans to become a broadcast journalist.  

But she soon realized the headline she hoped would define her life story would be a different one: “Educator Makes Positive Impact on Students’ Lives.”

She changed her major to education, and for the past 15 years has excelled as a teacher.  She went on to earn a master’s degree in the field, and currently serves as an Early Intervention Program teacher for third- through fifth-graders at Boston Elementary School.  Her devotion to students who need extra help to succeed, and her willingness to share best practices with colleagues, led the school to honor her as its Teacher of the Year.

Described by her former Principal as a “gifted and talented teacher,” Ms. Moore is praised as a “strong advocate for students’ rights, listening and acting upon their concerns without rushing to judgment… and setting a classroom expectation that our differences make us unique and should not be feared, but celebrated.”  

In her own words: “Though it is easier said than done, taking time to get to know, listen to, and implement student interests builds relationships and trust, and creates an excitement for learning.”

    
Carmel Elementary School 2019 Teacher of the Year: Melanie Phillips     

Carmel ES 2019 TOTY

Celebrating at “Legacy Makers: CCSD Teachers of the Year Celebration” are, from left to right, Superintendent of Schools Dr. Brian V. Hightower, Carmel Elementary School 2019 Teacher of the Year Melanie Phillips and Principal Paula Crumbley.

Kindergarten teacher Melanie Phillips’ heart hurts when she hears her students described as “those kids.”

“Those kids” who, because of their parents’ language or immigration status, are blamed for low test scores and accused of using up too many resources. The 22-year educator seeks out children whose parents don’t speak English as a first language and who may have immigrated to the country illegally.

Her desire, not just willingness, to help students facing additional barriers and the care she shows for them, led her colleagues to name her Carmel Elementary School’s Teacher of the Year. It’s the third time for Ms. Phillips to earn this honor, having previously won at Tippens Elementary and Hasty Elementary.

“She never allows anyone to feel unsuccessful or discouraged,” a former colleague said, noting that Ms. Phillips combines a fluency in Spanish with knowledge gained from a career of dedication and continued education (she has earned a master’s and specialist degrees as well as multiple endorsements) to help her students compete alongside those with fewer disadvantages.

In her own words: “I don’t deny that there is a problem with people entering the country illegally, but I want other people to understand that educators are dealing with children. Children are entitled to a good education regardless of the language they speak and their cultural backgrounds.

 

CCSD Preschool Centers 2019 Teacher of the Year: Lauren Garcia

ccsd preschool centers 2019 teacher of the year lauren garcia

Celebrating at “Legacy Makers: CCSD Teachers of the Year Celebration” are, from left to right, Superintendent of Schools Dr. Brian V. Hightower, CCSD Preschool Centers 2019 Teacher of the Year Lauren Garcia and Principal Victoria Thom.

Teacher Lauren Garcia meets parents at the beginning of their own learning process: raising a child with special needs.  She teaches them expertly, as she does their children at the Johnston Preschool Center, about the importance of setting goals, valuing progress, and celebrating every success.

“We are blessed that Mrs. Garcia was put in our family’s path,” shared a parent of one of her former students.  “Her expertise, dedication and compassion were all key to our son’s success.  He continues to excel now that he is in kindergarten, and we know that is because of her outstanding work as his preschool Special Education teacher.”

This love for the students she calls “my babies” and “my kids” and her devotion to mentoring fellow teachers led her colleagues to name the eight-year educator the Teacher of the Year for CCSD’s Preschool Centers.

She “empowers her students and their families with hope and possibility,” a colleague said, while also raising the bar for herself and her peers as the Center’s mentor teacher for new teachers.  

In her own words: “We have the ability and responsibility to see our students for who they are and help them become the best they can be.”

Cherokee High School 2019 Teacher of the Year: Ben Sosebee    

Cherokee HS toty 19

Celebrating at “Legacy Makers: CCSD Teachers of the Year Celebration” are, from left to right, Superintendent of Schools Dr. Brian V. Hightower, Cherokee High School 2019 Teacher of the Year Ben Sosebee and Principal Todd Miller.

Ben Sosebee is such a popular educator at Cherokee High School that students want to be in any and every class he’s teaching.

Mr. Sosebee, an 11-year teacher who currently teaches Advanced Placement Psychology and U.S. History, serves as head baseball coach and chairs the social studies department, has earned students’ and colleagues’ respect through his dedication to the craft of teaching and engaging everyone in learning.  “No one,” he said, “ever said that school cannot be fun.”

His focus on finding that fun, and his success in helping students and peers do the same, won him the school’s Teacher of the Year title.

“Students want to be around him because he allows them to be themselves and learn in their unique way,” a colleague said of Mr. Sosebee, who holds bachelor, master’s and specialist degrees in education.  Another noted his role as a “model teacher,” who is called upon to instruct his fellow teachers.  “He is always available to fellow teachers to bounce ideas off of him, and also to ‘steal’ needed materials from.” 

In his own words: “Students do not need to be browbeaten with a daily reminder that a test is coming up.  They need to know that their teacher cares for them, not only as a student, but as a person.”
 


Clark Creek ES STEM Academy 2019 Teacher of the Year: Jama McCartney

clark creek es stem academy toty 2019

Celebrating at “Legacy Makers: CCSD Teachers of the Year Celebration” are, from left to right, Superintendent of Schools Dr. Brian V. Hightower, Clark Creek ES STEM Academy 2019 Teacher of the Year Jama McCartney and Principal Joey Moss.

As an art teacher at Clark Creek Elementary School STEM Academy, Jama McCartney teaches children to shape clay into pottery.  Her colleagues say she’s just as gifted at shaping students into better people and her school into a better place.

“She loves what she does,” Principal Joey Moss said, as to why Ms. McCartney’s colleagues were inspired to name her Teacher of the Year.  “If you ask Ms. McCartney about her job, she will tell you she is ‘just an art teacher.’  However, the Clark Creek community knows her to be much more.  She makes a positive impact on not only me, but also on anyone in her realm of influence.”

A founding teacher at the seven-year-old school, Ms. McCartney over her 15-year teaching career has made crafting outstanding school climate a personal mission.  In addition to being named her school’s Teacher of the Year, Ms. McCartney was selected as one of four finalists for CCSD Teacher of the Year. 

In her own words: “I see the whole child.  I believe my greatest accomplishment in education is providing a safe place for students to explore art, but, more importantly, feel loved and valued for who they are.”

 

Clayton Elementary School 2019 Teacher of the Year: Jane Jarrett    

clayton es toty 2019

Celebrating at “Legacy Makers: CCSD Teachers of the Year Celebration” are, from left to right, Superintendent of Schools Dr. Brian V. Hightower, Clayton Elementary School 2019 Teacher of the Year Jane Jarrett and Principal Abbey Philpot.

Even as a young girl, Jane Jarrett knew her calling was teaching.

Growing up, she loved to her hear grandmother talk about her career as a Cherokee County teacher – “her adventures… and the students who made their way into her heart.”  Not only was Ms. Jarrett’s grandmother a teacher, so was her father and her aunt.  And, in addition to Ms. Jarrett, her sister and many of her cousins chose the path as well.

As Ms. Jarrett’s class changed from her childhood toys to rooms filled with students at Sixes, Buffington and, today, Clayton Elementary School, she learned how personal her calling was.  One of Ms. Jarrett’s children struggled with dyslexia.  Her bachelor’s degree was in middle school education, but her son’s special needs led her to pursue a master’s degree in reading education, a certificate in special education and a mind filled with instructional strategies, so she could help him… and hundreds more students.

This dedication to learning, which led one colleague to describe her as an “entrepreneur” teacher, and willingness to share that knowledge, led to her honor as Clayton Elementary School’s Teacher of the Year.

In her own words: “My greatest joy and contribution is working with struggling learners until they grasp a concept that they have been working toward for an extended period of time.”
 

Creekland Middle School 2019 Teacher of the Year: Laura Brown    

creekland ms toty 2019

Celebrating at “Legacy Makers: CCSD Teachers of the Year Celebration” are, from left to right, Superintendent of Schools Dr. Brian V. Hightower, Creekland Middle School 2019 Teacher of the Year Laura Brown and Principal Dr. Sue Zinkil.

Creekland Middle School special education teacher Laura Brown’s eighth-graders complete a project each year called “The Power of One.”  They study the positive impact a prominent person in history, such as Malala Yousafzai or Jesse Owens, has made in the lives of others.

While she would never suggest it, Ms. Brown could be the subject of that project, according to her students, their parents and her colleagues, who praise her incredible devotion to recognizing and encouraging the potential of every child -- no matter their differences.  The dedication she has shown to students over her 13-year career, including 10 years leading the school’s special education department, led her colleagues to name her Teacher of the Year.

Her concern for every student is evident, shared a parent, who experienced that care even though her child is not in Ms. Brown’s class: “As the parent of a child with learning challenges, I cannot imagine the patience and skill required to work with these amazing students five days a week.  Her response is always, ‘Just doing my job.  Aren’t I lucky to have such a great job?’” 

In her own words: “My greatest accomplishments appear each May when the official graduating class of Creekview High School is announced.  Each one of those accomplishments has a name in my memory and a place in my heart.”

 

Creekview High School 2019 Teacher of the Year: Liana Howard     

creekview hs toty 19

Celebrating at “Legacy Makers: CCSD Teachers of the Year Celebration” are, from left to right, Superintendent of Schools Dr. Brian V. Hightower, Creekview High School 2019 Teacher of the Year Liana Howard and Principal Dr. Mark Merges.

Creekview High School teacher Liana Howard has a quote from “To Kill a Mockingbird” on her English classroom wall: “You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view.”

Ms. Howard hopes her students leave her class better readers and writers, but also better people. This dedication to teaching life lessons beyond the required standards and syllabus led her colleagues to name Ms. Howard their Teacher of the Year.

“In an increasingly divisive public sphere, the need for empathy – attempting to understand another’s viewpoint – has never been more important,” said Ms. Howard, who began her career in 2013 and is on track to earn her master’s degree this spring.  The Harper Lee quote, she said, “serves as a constant reminder to practice empathy within the confines of our classroom.”

Principal Dr. Mark Merges says this spirit shines through all Ms. Howard does, from the classroom to co-sponsoring and coaching its State Champion Reading Bowl team to supporting colleagues.  “When you walk into Liana’s classroom,” he said, “students know they are important, and they work with a purpose.”  

In her own words: “My central message to fellow teachers, students and community stakeholders is to create a path to empathy.”


Dean Rusk Middle School 2019 Teacher of the Year: Bonnie Jackson    

dean rusk ms toty 2019

Celebrating at “Legacy Makers: CCSD Teachers of the Year Celebration” are, from left to right, Superintendent of Schools Dr. Brian V. Hightower, Dean Rusk Middle School Teacher of the Year Bonnie Jackson and Principal Dawn Weinbaum.


Our teachers are amazing, which is why we share the story of a school’s Teacher of the Year every week... please help us celebrate Dean Rusk Middle School 2019 Teacher of the Year Bonnie Jackson!
Bonnie Jackson is a teacher’s teacher.  


She earns the highest praise from colleagues: they want their own children in her language arts classes at Dean Rusk Middle School.  Teachers also want to learn from her.  And they name her Teacher of the Year.

“Bonnie is what all teachers strive for – an advocate for children, who will never settle for second-rate,” a colleague said.  “She gives her best and insists upon that from all around her.”

For the past eight years as an educator, Ms. Jackson has not only honed her excellent instructional skills, but also an important point of view on how she should define and recognize success.

“Achievement is not always about the high marks,” she said. “Achievement looks like students coming back to visit on a random morning.  Achievement looks like a group of 40-plus students huddled around a teacher on ‘The Hill’ at a Friday night football game because they know she cares about them and their success.  Achievement is knowing you made a difference in the life of a child, regardless of what it looks like on paper.

In her own words: “Connecting students globally starts with connecting students personally."


E.T. Booth Middle School 2019 Teacher of the Year: Kara Reeder

et booth ms toty 2019

Celebrating at “Legacy Makers: CCSD Teachers of the Year Celebration” are, from left to right, Superintendent of Schools Dr. Brian V. Hightower, E.T. Booth Middle School 2019 Teacher of the Year Kara Reeder and Principal Dr. Michael Manzella.

E.T. Booth Middle School seventh-grade science teacher Kara Reeder does more than ensure students master STEM knowledge – she “truly changes the trajectory of students’ lives.”

One parent shared how, before Ms. Reeder’s class, her son didn’t like science class much.  But after Ms. Reeder’s hands-on lessons connected to real-life experiences, that all changed.  Now, she said, he’s a STEM Pathway student at Etowah High School focused on a career in engineering.

“The passion for science that she shares with her students is inspiring,” the parent said of Ms. Reeder, a 16-year educator, whose dedication to education earned her the school’s Teacher of the Year honor.

One such inspiring lesson: to teach her students about bio-medical engineering, Ms. Reeder tasked them with designing a prosthetic device for a person.  The lesson began with a guest expert speaker from a bio-medical firm, continued with students developing a “back story” for their device’s recipient, and then designing the device.  The lesson ended with even more impact: a guest speaker who is an amputee and lives every day with a prosthetic came into class to share his own story.

In her own words: “Challenging students to see the relevance in what they are learning allows them to make real-world connections.  Finding the spark that will ignite their curiosity is the goal.”
 

Etowah High School 2019 Teacher of the Year: Tabatha Box  

Etowah HS toty 19

Celebrating at “Legacy Makers: CCSD Teachers of the Year Celebration” are, from left to right, Superintendent of Schools Dr. Brian V. Hightower, Etowah High School Teacher of the Year Tabatha Box and Principal Robert Horn. 

Our teachers are amazing, which is why we share the story of a school’s Teacher of the Year every week... please help us celebrate Etowah High School 2019 Teacher of the Year  Tabatha Box!

Etowah High School math teacher Tabatha Box loves teaching math -- so much so that the way to her heart on Valentine’s Day was a gift of a skirt patterned with equations.

The 11-year educator, who teaches math classes ranging from geometry to AP Calculus, earned her undergraduate and graduate degrees from Kennesaw State University.  She began teaching in 2007, joining CCSD in 2014, and in addition to earning her school’s Teacher of the Year title, was named a CCSD finalist.

She survived a very challenging childhood, and, as a college student fighting for custody and then raising her younger brother, Ms. Box found her calling to help children through teaching.

“Mrs. Box always makes sure patience and compassion form the foundation for her classroom,” a former student said.  “It’s no easy task to make sure 30 students all understand a topic… but she makes sure they understand the concept before moving on and produces academic excellence from all of those that walk through her classroom door.”

In her own words: “I hope to inspire the desire to learn for the sake of learning, to be hard-working even when times are tough and stressful, and to respect and be kind to those around you.  These are core values I instill in my lessons day to day.”

     
Free Home Elementary School 2019 Teacher of the Year: Keith Furstenberg

Free Home TOTY 19

Celebrating at “Legacy Makers: CCSD Teachers of the Year Celebration” are, from left to right, Superintendent of Schools Dr. Brian V. Hightower, Free Home Elementary School Teacher of the Year Keith Furstenberg and Principal Kim Hagood.

Physical Education teacher Keith Furstenberg’s selection as Free Home Elementary School’s Teacher of the Year by his peers is not only an honor, but also is especially remarkable, according to the Principal.

The reason? He’s only in his second year of teaching at the school.

“That is a strong statement of his outstanding character,” Principal Kim Hagood said. “This, and his strong knowledge of content, passion for teaching and wonderful sense of teamwork are just a few of the reasons he was chosen for this award.”

While Coach Furstenberg is relatively new to Free Home ES, he’s a veteran PE, art and Special Education teacher with 20 years of experience and has earned Teacher of the Year honors from a previous school, as well as twice being named Forsyth County’s Environmental Educator of the Year.

But this comment from a Free Home student speaks even more to his abilities to make a positive difference in the lives of the children he teaches: “He will never know how much we love him.”

In his own words: “When there is a positive relationship between the students and teacher, it is feasible to reach all educational goals.”
 

Freedom Middle School 2019 Teacher of the Year: Kate Morris

Celebrating at “Legacy Makers: CCSD Teachers of the Year Celebration” are, from left to right, Superintendent of Schools Dr. Brian V. Hightower, Freedom Middle School Teacher of the Year Kate Morris and Principal Sheila Grimes.

Celebrating at “Legacy Makers: CCSD Teachers of the Year Celebration” are, from left to right, Superintendent of Schools Dr. Brian V. Hightower, Freedom Middle School Teacher of the Year Kate Morris and Principal Sheila Grimes.

A defining lesson that Kate Morris teaches her reading and language arts special education students at Freedom Middle School is the preparation and delivery of a speech to the class.

Public speaking is dreaded by many middle school students, but often especially by special education students, who Ms. Morris said frequently believe the negative stereotypes about special education that she works to combat.

“They think they are ‘stupid’ because they are in special education and/or because they are in small group classes,” said Ms. Morris, a Woodstock HS graduate who began her career six years ago at Freedom MS. “By the end of the school year, I end up changing their minds because I instill confidence in them.”

And one way, she said, is the speech assignment.  She tells the story a student with autism, and how her anxiety and self-doubt melted away as her speech, “How My Best Brings Out the Best in Others” was met with a standing ovation at its end – by the entire class of both regular and special education students.

“Ms. Morris,” one of her students shared, “has cared for me like no other teacher has.”    

In her own words: “I love helping students reach their full potential even if they cannot see it in themselves.”

 

Hasty ES Fine Arts Academy 2019 Teacher of the Year: Sarah Munroe    

Celebrating at “Legacy Makers: CCSD Teachers of the Year Celebration” are, from left to right, Superintendent of Schools Dr. Brian V. Hightower, Hasty ES Fine Arts Academy Teacher of the Year Sarah Munroe and Principal Rodney Larrotta.

Celebrating at “Legacy Makers: CCSD Teachers of the Year Celebration” are, from left to right, Superintendent of Schools Dr. Brian V. Hightower, Hasty ES Fine Arts Academy Teacher of the Year Sarah Munroe and Principal Rodney Larrotta.

Hasty Elementary School Fine Arts Academy’s Teacher of the Year Sarah Munroe is a writing teacher, so what better praise than in the form of a letter written by one of her second-grade students.

“I think Ms. Munroe should be Teacher of the Year because she is a great teacher.  Another reason is she has a room that feels like home.  She explains how to write good.  Mrs. Munroe makes writing fun.  Finally, she deserves to be Teacher of the Year because she helps us write better and loves us.”

That combination of expertise, skill and care comes up again and again in the praise for Ms. Munroe from students, parents and colleagues, who say the 11-year educator makes writing exciting… even for those students who have the greatest challenges to overcome.

“She has created a safe environment for students to become comfortable with the writing process and motivated to become better writers,” a fellow teacher said.  “Because of her caring and approachable demeanor, as well as her belief in the students, she has been able to foster a love of writing within her students, which has improved their writing levels and abilities.  This is no easy feat when working with students who speak other languages and come from impoverished homes.”

In her own words: “Through relationships, a teacher can build educational foundations that last a lifetime.”
 

Hickory Flat Elementary School 2019 Teacher of the Year: Corinne Snow

corinne snow

Hickory Flat Elementary School Teacher of the Year Corinne Snow is not only a positive strong influence in the lives of her students, she also is one of the most positive people her colleagues have ever known.

“Shhhh,” one colleague shared, “don’t tell anyone, but I really think she is Superwoman.”

After the sudden death of her husband, renowned Cobb County PE teacher Coach Jay Ingram, Ms. Snow moved to Cherokee County and joined Hickory Flat ES as a special education teacher.  Two years later, she realized she was being called to instead teach PE as her late husband did.

While this new path was inspired by his legacy, Principal Whitney Nolan said Coach Snow’s “quiet strength and caring heart for others” is why children beg to go to the gym for her classes and why her colleagues turn to her for a pep talk, a shoulder to cry on, and a true friend.

“Upon her introduction,” a colleague said, “I remember our administrators telling our staff about the positivity that she exhibited during her interview.  It seemed strange that someone who had experienced such loss could actually have enough light about them that others would take notice of it.  It didn’t take me long to see that their words were spoken in truth.”

In her own words: “Kids need to learn it is OK to fail and try again.  They need to learn that academics are important, but so is their health.  I’m always available to listen to a student tell a story or give a hug.  Kids need to know we care.”

 

Holly Springs ES STEM Academy 2019 Teacher of the Year: Sonja Chapman

holly springs es stem academy toty 19

Celebrating at “Legacy Makers: CCSD Teachers of the Year Celebration” are, from left to right, Superintendent of Schools Dr. Brian V. Hightower, Holly Springs Elementary School STEM Academy 2019 Teacher of the Year Sonja Chapman and Principal Donna Bertram.

A second-generation educator, Holly Springs Elementary School STEM Academy Teacher of the Year Sonja Chapman knew as a young girl that her calling was to be a superhero in the form of a teacher.

For her childhood teachers, she said, appeared as superheroes to her in the way they were both supportive and caring, while also in control of every situation and able to solve any problem before them.

“I attribute my love and success as an educator to my past teachers and mother because they made my dream of becoming someone’s superhero a reality,” said Ms. Chapman, who now is in her 22nd year of teaching and 16th at Holly Springs, where she currently teaches English language arts and social studies.

Ms. Chapman has fulfilled her heroic dream, according to parents and colleagues, who praise her focus on the individual whole child and willingness to support and mentor fellow educators. 

“While in Ms. Chapman’s class,” one parent shared, “my daughter was not just taught the curriculum required for third grade, but Ms. Chapman also taught her new ways to deal with her anxiety and invested her time in letting her know how amazing she truly is.”

In her own words: “With the honor of teaching comes great responsibility.”

 

Indian Knoll Elementary School 2019 Teacher of the Year: Patti Nations

indian knoll es toty

Celebrating at “Legacy Makers: CCSD Teachers of the Year Celebration” are, from left to right, Superintendent of Schools Dr. Brian V. Hightower, Indian Knoll Elementary School 2019 Teacher of the Year Patti Nations and Principal Kim Cerasoli.

Indian Knoll Elementary School Teacher of the Year Patti Nations felt called to her profession as a young girl, transforming everywhere she went into a classroom for her siblings or stuffed animals.

That calling was reinforced by the outstanding teachers she had as a child, who made school special and showed her the positive influence of an educator for generations.

“Many times, I will dream of my old classrooms and teachers, as if it was meant for me to have those memories because I would one day use some of the same implementations in my own classroom,” she said.

Ms. Nations, over her 20 years as a kindergarten teacher, has not only carried on her former teachers’ best practices, she’s also expanded her own education and adopted new strategies and instructional technology.

One parent shares a sweet story of her very shy child’s first week in Ms. Nations’ class: “I was worried about him, so I asked, ‘Do you like Ms. Nations?’  He quickly replied, ‘No, Mommy… I love her!’  She made him feel safe and gave him the foundation he needed to be successful in school.”

In her own words: “If we teach with a servant’s heart to help others, we will not only educate students, but we also will change the lives of our fellow humans.”

 

Johnston Elementary School 2019 Teacher of the Year: Brittany Stalling

johnston es TOTY

Celebrating at “Legacy Makers: CCSD Teachers of the Year Celebration” are, from left to right, Superintendent of Schools Dr. Brian V. Hightower, Johnston ES 2019 Teacher of the Year Brittany Stalling and Principal Laura Akers.

Johnston Elementary School Teacher of the Year Brittany Stalling remembers when she realized her life’s calling.

Growing up, she would join her grandmother on running errands in town.  There would always be at least one person in their path who would come up and say to her grandmother, a retired teacher, “Do you remember me?”  She would remember each one and delight in the reunion.

“No matter the student,” Ms. Stalling said, “they would always end the conversation by saying thank you to my grandmother for making a difference in their lives.  These moments influenced me to become a teacher to help turn a child’s dream into reality so that they can make a positive difference in the world.”

That is just what Ms. Stalling has done for the last five years since earning her education degree from Reinhardt University.  Her commitment to combining new instructional practices with what she learned from watching her grandmother – deeply caring for each child you teach, has made her a school leader, according to her Principal: “She believes in true teamwork, and she has a genuine love for all people.”

In her own words: “Once we, as educators, students, parents and guardians, rise up to the call of action and use our powerful weapon of education, we can change the world in as positive way that can not only change humanity, but also help all press through the challenges in life.”

 

Knox ES STEM Academy 2019 Teacher of the Year: Nicole Waldrep    
Liberty Elementary School 2019 Teacher of the Year: Angie Nalls    
Little River Elementary School 2019 Teacher of the Year: Karen Reynolds
Macedonia Elementary School 2019 Teacher of the Year: Leah Parrott
Mill Creek Middle School 2019 Teacher of the Year: Dana Townsend - She is CCSD Teacher of the Year; please see profile on the previous page

Mountain Road Elementary School 2019 Teacher of the Year: Amy Kerwood
Oak Grove ES Fine Arts Academy 2019 Teacher of the Year: Amy McCravy
R.M. Moore ES STEM Academy 2019 Teacher of the Year 2019 Teacher of the Year: Alison Hughes
River Ridge High School 2019 Teacher of the Year: Katie Freeman
Sequoyah High School 2019 Teacher of the Year: Paul Peacock    
Sixes Elementary School 2019 Teacher of the Year: LaTonya McGruder    
Teasley Middle School 2019 Teacher of the Year: Nicholas Garcia    
Tippens Education Center 2019 Teacher of the Year: April Popham
Woodstock Elementary School 2019 Teacher of the Year: Katie Grooms 
Woodstock High School 2019 Teacher of the Year: Dr. Derek Engram   
Woodstock Middle School 2019 Teacher of the Year: Heidi Switzer    

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