Patel named Coweta teacher of the year

Ruth Hill Elementary School 5th grade teacher Ami Patel on May 1 was named the 2014 Coweta County Teacher of the Year by Coweta school board member Harry Mullins, at left. Patel was chosen from among three finalists and 31 fellow school Teachers of the Year for the honor. The 31 TOTYs were honored by school board members and the Newnan Pilot Club at the May 1 program. Photo/Special.

Ruth Hill Elementary School 5th grade teacher Ami Patel was chosen from among Coweta County’s 31 Teacher of the Year winners and three finalists as the 2014 Coweta County Teacher of the Year. The award ceremony was held May 1 at the school system’s Centre for Performing and Visual Arts.

Patel was introduced by Ruth Hill Principal Aaron Corley, who described Patel as an extraordinary teacher for her “ability to see students not just for who they are, but for who they can become.” He said that he would be “proud to have (Patel) as my own child’s teacher.”

Patel is a 2003 graduate of the University of Georgia where she earned a B.S. in psychology and a 2007 graduate of Mercer University where she earned a master’s degree in Early Childhood Education. She is currently working towards her Doctorate in School Improvement at the University of West Georgia.

Patel has taught in Coweta County for seven years and at Welch Elementary School from 2007 through 2013. She was named the Teacher of the Year for Welch in 2012.

Patel began teaching at Ruth Hill during the current school year and was selected by her peers to represent Ruth Hill as that school’s Teacher of the Year in February. As Coweta County’s 2014 Teacher of the Year, Patel will also serve as Coweta’s nominee for Georgia Teacher of the Year, said school system spokesman Dean Jackson.

Patel at the ceremony referred to her father as a personal hero, describing how he came to America alone over 25 years ago, made his way in a strange place and worked to bring his family to his new country make a life for them as well. She recalled how he brought her and her family to America with few resources and how her father worked “to provide his family with opportunities for success... He, his wife and his children prospered through the American educational system.”

Patel said she brings those experiences and commitments to her classroom and her students and views teachers similarly as heroes to their students.

“We make it possible for our students to create a life for themselves they never imagined,” said Patel. “A child may be born poor in this country, but they do not have to be defined by their circumstances.”

Finalists for the annual honor included Patel, Northgate High School Economics Teacher Amanda Connell and Winston Dowdell Academy Special Education Teacher Wendy Arnold.

Patel, Arnold and Connell at the ceremony were honored along with all 31 Coweta County Teacher of the Year winners from each of the county’s schools.