Middle and high schools in the Coweta County School System announced their Teachers of the Year for 2017 recently.
Each year, outstanding educators are chosen by their peers to represent their schools. From there, the Coweta County School System selects three finalists for the county-level Teacher of the Year. This year, the finalists were Anne Graner of Ruth Hill Elementary School, Mindy Baker of East Coweta Middle School and Susan Barber of Northgate High School.
Last week, Barber was named 2017 Coweta County Teacher of the Year. She will be the school system’s nominee for 2017 Georgia Teacher of the Year.
Here are Coweta County’s 2017 middle and high school Teachers of the Year, along with samples of their educational philosophies:
Arnall Middle: Amanda Inman, sixth-grade math. “Teachers need to be more flexible and understand that we have no idea what our children go home to each day. Middle school is an awkward and emotional rollercoaster so we have to be sensitive to their feelings, moods, and drama.”
East Coweta Middle: (Coweta 2017 Teacher of the Year finalist) Mindy Baker, sixth-grade math. “Even when a student is on a destructive path and destined to fail, I still capitalize on every opportunity to teach them something about anything because that is one more thing that they know that they wouldn’t have known if I had given up on them.”
Evans Middle: Tim Crosby, eighth-grade math. “It is important to understand that every student can learn and that every student is different. I make it a priority to understand what my students need and where they are at in the material.”
Lee Middle: Jennifer Doonan, seventh-grade English/language arts: “Hope necessitates a willingness to meet students where they are; a desire to problem-solve and collaborate; a commitment to continued professional growth which shares best practices and uplifts others; a common belief that achievement gaps can be closed; and a choice for all educators.”
Madras Middle: Christal Wagner, Grade 6-8 band. “Exposing the students to the ‘next level’ is so important. Whether it’s YouTube videos, private lessons, or extracurricular ensembles, each student has resources for imitating greatness, and it helps provide that 6th-12th grade continuum that make everyone successful.”
Maggie Brown: Melissa Houghton, social studies. “Without a joyful outlook on life (something most of my students don’t have), not even a well-educated individual can succeed. When my students learn to appreciate themselves as individuals, they will then absorb the knowledge to succeed in my classroom.
Smokey Road Middle: Heather Clay, special education – self-contained (Grade 6-8). “...my students are unable to complete tasks independently. In my classroom, we do a lot of one-on-one instruction. As much as I want to be able to work with each student every minute of the day, I know that it is not possible. I put trust in the staff around me to fulfill the needs of my students in the same way I would.”
Central Educational Center: Sean Parker, Grade 9-12 math. “Student success depends on my being able to learn each student’s entry point and make the material relatable. Creating lessons to be obtainable and relevant and making them accessible by providing additional help are the components of my core as an educator.”
East Coweta High: Christopher Bolling, Grade 9-12 science. “Remember that your lesson plans and pedagogy are great, but your impact in totality is the lasting impression that we leave on the world. It does not matter the level of students, subject discipline, or area that you are in, it's the amount of passion that you have and that shines through that measures the capacity of your own greatness.”
Newnan High: Tara Atkinson, special education – ninth-grade Algebra 1. “If we want to create a better place for future generations, we must not look for faults in others, but instead take a personal responsibility as individuals to impact the development of our youth.”
Northgate High: Coweta County 2017 Teacher of the Year Susan Barber, Grade 11-12 American literature and AP literature. “Teachers can bring creativity, passion, and excellence to the classroom on a daily basis regardless of resources (or lack of), issues in the system, or education policy. Teachers should not be political pawns or just going through the motions to get a paycheck: we are instructors, mentors, role models, counselors, and life changers.”
Winston Dowdell Academy: Ellen Thomas, Grade 9-12 English. “Georgia’s best teachers are role models for their students on how to rise up to challenges, grab whatever tools and resources may be at hand, and continuously update and improve our skills. We endlessly push ourselves and our students toward higher levels of understanding and success.”