Coweta County Teachers of the Year, Part 1

East Coweta Middle School Teacher of the Year

Craig Owens has been teaching since 1995. He earned his music performance and education degrees from Georgia State in 1985 and 1995. Currently, he teaches band at ECMS.

“It is not how much we know but rather how much we care,” said Owens. “Music is a vital part of the completion of a child’s development. Many of the experiences through music performance and preparation cannot be measured on a mathematical scale. Music touches all of the senses and sometimes the benefits of music cannot be seen immediately. It takes time for feelings to be developed and experienced, therefore music is a lifetime of learning.”

Lee Middle School Teacher of the Year

Misty Wilson has been teaching since 2004. She earned her bachelor of science degree in middle grades and masters degree from UWG in 2004 and 2009. She also earned her specialist in curriculum and instruction certification from Lincoln Memorial University in 2014. Currently, she seventh grade English, language arts, and social studies at Lee.

“A teacher has many jobs,” said Wilson. “One of my primary jobs is to advocate for my students. Not only do I provide a great education for my students, but I also actively work to protect my students, involve parents in my classroom, hold my students to high standards, and actively participate in school committees, groups, and programs.”

Smokey Road Middle School Teacher of the Year

Matt Nash has been teaching since 2008. He earned his undergraduate degree in health and physical education from the University of Georgia in 2008 and his masters in health and physical education from Valdosta State in 2010. Currently, he teaches seventh grade literature, language arts, and life science at Smokey Road.

“Teachers need to be who they are,” said Nash. “I would not ask or expect any teacher to change the way he or she grades assignments or the content being taught, but I would ask them to question their approach. Do they really have the best interest of the students in mind every day they pull into the parking lot? Are they encouraging each student weekly so that their students feel value and self worth? We were created to love and be loved. There is not better profession to fully embody this opportunity than teaching.”

East Coweta High School Teacher of the Year

Chris Sewell has been teaching since 2003. He earned his bachelor of science degree in forest resource management and his masters in forest business management from the University of Georgia in 1993 and 1998. In 2003, he became certified to teach through the UWG.

“Approach each day as a new day, and remember that every positive experience you provide a child will lead to a positive outcome in the future,” said Sewell. “Even a failing grade can be expressed positively to a child. Help them to understand that mistakes are okay and that they need to learn from them and not give up on themselves.”

Newnan High School Teacher of the Year

JoEllen Gordon has been teaching since 1986. She earned her undergraduate and graduate degrees in mathematics education from Auburn University in 1986 and 1988. Currently, she teaches 11th and 12th grade AP Calculus at Newnan.

“As a general rule, teachers are the most dedicated and hardworking people I know,” said Gordon. “It appears that the current political environment leads the public to believe that education is in trouble, that teachers are not doing their jobs, and that public schools cannot be trusted. In my experience, I have found the opposite to be true.”

Arbor Spring Elementary School Teacher of the Year

Lauren Scheu has been teaching elementary school since 1999. She received her bachelor of science degree in elementary education from Florida State University in 1999 and her master of education in literacy curriculum and instruction from Lesley University in 2006. She has been at Arbor Springs Elementary School since 2001 and currently teaches third grade, all subjects.

“Education is changing and it will always continue to change,” said Scheu. “As educators, we need to continually grow and change as well . . . Draw yourself into your students’ lives. See what makes them happy and motivated. Know their struggles and their strengths. Build upon that. Talk with your students and create a bond. Once they know that you are invested in their lives, they will become invested in what matters to you . . . their education.”

Atkinson Elementary School Teacher of the Year

Rebecca Lewis has been teaching in Coweta County since 2011. She earned her bachelor of science degree in early childhood education from the University of West Georgia in 2012 and her master of education from Mercer University in 2013. Currently, she teaches second grade all subjects at Atkinson.

“It is reasonable to have high expectations and to set goals, but regardless of the standardized growth percentage that is set, any growth should be celebrated,” said Lewis. “Growth shows that a positive impact has been made on the student and has therefore enriched his or her life.”

Eastside Elementary School Teacher of the Year

Jenny Walker has been teaching since 1987 and has been at Eastside since 2003 where she currently teaches kindergarten. She earned her elementary education degree from Armstrong Atlantic University and master’s degree in 2009 from UWG.

“Creativity, through the arts and technology, is the vehicle that teachers need to utilize to be able to teach the whole child,” said Walker. “I feel that as educators we are pressuring our children to produce instead of enabling our children to create . . . Every classroom should be a place where all ideas are valued. Creating a safe environment fosters creativity.”

Elm Street Elementary School Teacher of Year

Shelene Long has been teaching in Coweta County since 2008. She earned her bachelor’s degree in early childhood education from UWG in 2008 and currently teaches fourth grade, all subjects at Elm Street Elementary School.

“In this ever changing world we live in, we should not be in fear of the changes of the future, but rather embrace them and do the best job possible to help students manage through the changes as well,” said Long.

Glanton Elementary School Teacher of the Year

Ellen Thomas has been teaching since 1990. She earned her bachelor of arts in English from Berry College in 1985 and her master of arts in English education from the University of South Florida in 1990. Currently, she teaches fourth grade at Glanton Elementary School.

“Teachers are on a search and rescue mission in the modern classroom,” said Thomas. “One size fits all just doesn’t really fit anymore. We are charged instead with unlocking the unique puzzle of what each student needs in order to learn.”

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