Since I received the honor of being named the 2016 Georgia Teacher of the Year in May 2015 , I have been busy and it does not appear it will be slowing down any time soon.
Meetings & Happenings
In early June I gave an inspiration talk to open the June Georgia Board of Education meeting in Atlanta. Afterward I had lunch with Richard Woods, Georgia School Superintendent. We had a long talk, and Superintendent Woods asked me to write a letter to all Georgia teachers to give some insight on what is happening on the state level and how it may not always be filtering down to the classroom teachers.
The next week, I attended my first board meeting at the Georgia Partnership for Excellence in Education. Founded in 1992 by the Georgia Chamber of Commerce and the Georgia Economic Developers Association, the Partnership consists of business, education, community and government leaders who share a vision of improved education in our state. The organization is an independent, nonpartisan, nonprofit working tirelessly to be Georgia's foremost change agent in K-12 public education. The Georgia Partnership often takes lead roles in efforts to shape policy and reform education but gladly partners with other groups or organizations taking lead roles in a variety of efforts. As the 2016 Georgia Teacher of the Year, it is a high honor to be a part of this prestigious board.
In July I attended an International Baccalaureate (IB) training in Atlanta held at the beautiful North Atlanta High School. . North Atlanta offers an IB curriculum including both Middle years and diploma programs.
Later in July, I was interviewed for the August/September edition of PAGE Magazine, the magazine of the Professional Association of Georgia Educators. I also wrote an article about the importance of building relationships with students.
Toward the end of July, I attended a National History Day boot camp for teachers at LaGrange College in LaGrange, Georgia. National History Day (NHD) is a program sponsored by the Georgia Humanities Council and LaGrange College in partnership with my alma mater, Mercer University. National History Day pulls students out of textbooks to learn about history firsthand. Competitions occur at the regional, state, and national levels Students may use several different mediums to present their historical research, such as a written essay or research paper, an exhibit, a performance, a documentary film, or a website. I saw some incredible examples of students’ work.
I closed out July by being the keynote speaker for Appling County Board of Education at its All Staff meeting in Baxley, Georgia. I was warmly received and spoke to a packed house of over 600 educators.
I started August by addressing all new Savannah-Chatham teachers at the New Teacher Orientation held at Woodville Thompkins High School. I encouraged these new teachers to actively build lasting and meaningful relationships with their students.
Later that same week, I attended the State of the School System meeting for Savannah-Chatham County Public Schools (SCCPSS), my home district. I attended my first SCCPSS School board meeting as the designated District Teacher Representative Together with Mrs. Janice Gordon, who was elected the Instructional Support Staff Person of the Year for 2016, I will co-chair a professional senate that is made of both groups. We meet monthly and give our input to SCCPSS’s Superintendent of Schools, Dr. Thomas Lockamy, as well as serve as a sounding board for the SCCPSS school board.
I also received a high honor from the Clinton Masonic Lodge #54 F. & A.M. The gentlemen honored me as their 2016 Teacher of the Year. This group was issued its charter in 1847 and actively supports children by helping to sponsor a children home near Macon and the good work at children’s hospitals around the county and the world. I was very appreciative and grateful to receive such a prestigious award.
After the start of school year, I met with both the Director of Programs and Educational Coordinator at the Georgia Historical Society. Since I am on sabbatical, I am volunteering my time to work on the Georgia History Festival. You may already be familiar with Savannah’s colorful Georgia Day Parade, where our younger elementary students dress up to celebrate the founding of the Georgia Colony, but the Georgia History Festival actually spans from September to February of each year. In celebration of Constitution Day and to kick off the 2016 Georgia History Festival, GHS is inviting the public to experience this piece of American history firsthand! Stop by the GHS Research Center (Hodgson Hall 501 Whitaker Street. Savannah, Georgia) between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m. on September 17 for a self-guided tour featuring the first public showing of this unique document, along with the educational displays and other one-of-a-kind materials that tell the story of Georgia’s role in the founding of our nation. I will be giving a short talk after a keynote presentation by Dr. Stan Deaton, Emmy-award winning host of Today in Georgia History.
The other current projects I am working on are a teacher recruitment video that is being produced by SCCPSS’s Human Resources Department and another video for the Georgia Department of Education on the value of public education. You can e-mail me at 2016TOTY@gmail.com. Also visit my Facebook page by going to Facebook.com/Ga Teacher or follow me on Twitter @GATOTY2016. I would love to hear from you.
I am very proud to be a teacher and I am honored to represent all Georgia Educators as your 2016 Georgia Teacher of the Year. I am available to come speak to your educational, civic, or spiritual group.
All my best,
2016 Georgia Teacher of the Year