Three teachers of Gwinnett County Public Schools were named the 2018 Gwinnett County Teacher of the Year (TOTY).
By Anna Kim
The Infinite Energy Forum, in Duluth, was filled with an educational fervor this past November from the 2018 Gwinnett County Public Schools (GCPS) Teacher of the Year Award.
Three teachers of GCPS were given the honor during the banquet: Dr. Doug Doblar of Head Elementary School was a recipient of the school system’s highest teaching honor; Cheri Nations of North Gwinnett Middle School was Gwinnett’s 2018 Middle School Teacher of the Year; and Amy Crisp of Norcross High School was presented with the 2018 High School Teacher of the Year Honor.
According to GCPS, the TOTY selection process began at the start of the school year when thousands of teachers from throughout the district were nominated and they selected 138 teachers to represent their local schools. The selection was narrowed down to 25 semifinalists, and finally the six finalists made the cut. In addition to the three level winners (Dr. Doblar, Mrs. Nations, and Ms. Crisp), the other three finalists were: Ebony Flott of Camp Creek Elementary School, John Chvatal of Brookwood High School, and Michelle E. Jones of the Gwinnett Online Campus.
The most notable awardee was Cheri Nations, who has taught the STEM connections classes for 4 years at North Gwinnett Middle School in Sugar Hill. She is a Korean adoptee. To make a long story short, Mrs. Nations was adopted and brought to America in the 1970’s when she was 10 months old. She purportedly suffered from racism when young and living in the southern region, but has grown up to be warmhearted and kind. Mrs. Nations received a Bachelor of Science in Chemistry from the Georgia Institute of Technology. Her teaching approach integrates all subject areas, emphasizes a student-centered classroom, and connects each lesson with real world situations.
Mrs. Nations wants to inculcate the passion of STEM program in her students.
“I love science, math, and new technology. I have a strong desire to foster this same love of science and math in my students,” said Cheri Nations in a press release. “I knew that high science/math students were already motivated to continue on an advanced track. I wanted a chance to show everyone else how cool science could be and how it relates to our fast-changing world.”
She throws her educational philosophy of the STEM program into shape by using an inquiry-based and student-driven teaching style in her class room.
“We are currently preparing our kids for jobs that don’t exist yet, where they will use technology that has not yet been invented, to solve problems that we are not even aware of yet. This means that we cannot teach our students the same way we were taught,” said Cheri Nations. “Instead, we must teach them the skills to become lifelong learners, problem-solvers, and collaborators. I believe this instructional approach is beneficial for all students and often reaches students who struggle with more conventional, structured classrooms.”
Meanwhile, Mrs. Nations and Ms. Crisp will be granted $750 each year as long as they are employed with GCPS. Dr. Doblar will compete for the Georgia title and receive an annual award of $1,000. In addition, he will also receive a crystal peach, a $500 grocery store gift card and gift basket, a commemorative ring, a laptop computer, and the use of a new car for one year. How awesome!
The finalists will receive a one-time award of $500 and the 5 finalists who did not win the county honor also will be granted a $250 grocery store gift card and gift basket. Each local school winner will receive a one-time award of $200.
GCPS congratulates the district’s top 25 teachers, semifinalists for the county’s 2018 Teacher of the Year competition. <Photos by Bruce Halliburton>
Gwinnett County Public Schools in Suwanee.