Patel named Teacher of the Year
by Celia Shortt
Ruth Hill Elementary School fifth-grade teacher Ami Patel was announced as Coweta County School System’s 2014 Teacher of the Year at Thursday’s recognition ceremony.
“It is very humbling to know I work in a school system with so many good teachers,” said Patel after receiving the award at the ceremonies held at the school system’s Centre for Performing and Visual Arts. “I’m just one of many who do what I do.”
Ruth Hill Principal Dr. Aaron Corley said Patel is “one of the most dedicated and caring teachers I have ever encountered, and I am proud to have her at Ruth Hill.”
Corley added he would be proud to have Patel as his own child’s teacher, too.
“Educators allow dreams to come true,” said Patel. “They (students) are our future, and we can help them achieve the dreams they always wanted.”
“To your students, you are always a hero,” she said.
Patel said her father was her hero. She told the story of how he came to America by himself more than 25 years ago. When he arrived, he made his way in a strange and new place, and worked hard to bring his family to him and to make a life for his family.
She remembered how he brought the family to America with few resources, but he still worked to provide them “with opportunities for success.” In addition, she and her family members all prospered through the American educational system.
Patel said she brings those experiences and commitments to her classroom and students, and views teachers similarly as heroes to their students.
Patel was one of three finalists chosen from the Coweta school system’s 31 individual school teachers of the year. The other two finalists were Wendy Arnold, who teaches at Winston Dowdell Academy, and Arnold’s daughter, Amanda Connell, who teaches at Northgate High School.
“For me, that is proof that I inspired at least one person and you are my greatest accomplishment,” said Arnold to Connell during her speech. “I’m proud to be your colleague along with all the other teachers in Coweta County, and I’m also proud to be your momma.”
In her speech, Connell thanked the two teachers who have had the biggest influence on her life – her husband, Drew, and her mom.
“The greatest influence I’ve had as a teacher and for my life is my mom,” she said. “I have a true passion for education instilled in me by my mother. I will never be able to thank her for all she’s done in my life.”
Of her husband, Connell said she learns something new from him every day. He is a teacher and football coach in Carroll County.
Patel has been teaching in Coweta County since 2007. She earned her bachelor of science degree in psychology from the University of Georgia in 2003, her master’s degree in early childhood education from Mercer University in 2007, and her ESOL endorsement and specialist certification from the University of West Georgia in 2012. This year, she is expecting to finish her Ed.D in school improvement from UWG.
Pilot Club members provided a reception for the Teachers of the Year, principals and family members before Thursday’s program. It also provided silver trays for Patel and the other two finalists.
The other 2014 Coweta County Teachers of the Year included:
From elementary schools: Lauren Scheu, 3rd Grade (Arbor Springs); Carrie Dumm, 5th Grade (Arnco-Sargent); Rebecca Lewis, 2nd Grade (Atkinson); Ashley Wilkes, 5th Grade (Brooks); Pam Barfield, 4th Grade (Canongate); Jenny Walker, Kindergarten (Eastside); Shelene Long, 4th Grade (Elm Street); Ellen Thomas, 4th Grade (Glanton); Heather Reaves, 5th Grade (Jefferson Parkway); Pam Smith, EIP Teacher (Moreland); Joyce McCain, Kindergarten (Newnan Crossing); Beth Willems, 3rd Grade (Northside); Dwight McDaniel, 5th Grade (Poplar Road); JoAnne Underwood, Kindergarten (Thomas Crossroads); Sarah Leach, 1st Grade (Welch); Samiha Alexander, 5th Grade (Western); Kim Taylor, 2nd Grade (White Oak); Susan Kennedy, Special Education Teacher (Willis Road).
From middle schools: Rebecca Ryals, 6th Grade Social Studies (Arnall); Craig Owens, 6th-8th Grade (East Coweta); Amy Addison, 8th Grade Language Arts and Literature (Evans); Misty Wilson, 7th Grade Literature and Language Arts (Lee); Michelle Clarke, 8th Grade Math (Madras); Matt Nash, 7th Grade Special Education (Smokey Road); Jennifer Bailey, 6th -8th Grade Math (Maggie Brown).
From high schools: Jim Cromwell, Economics (the Central Educational Center); Chris Sewell, AP Biology (East Coweta); Jo Ellen Gordon, Math Teacher (Newnan).