The long journey for the three finalists vying for Fayette County Teacher of the Year came to an end Thursday night at New Hope Baptist Church, North Campus, with the naming of the winner.
All eyes were fixed on Superintendent John DeCotis as he opened the sealed envelope and announced that Carrie Collins, a kindergarten teacher at Peeples Elementary, had been selected as the 2010 Fayette County Teacher of the Year.
The other two finalists were Jamie Munoz, sixth grade science teacher at Bennett’s Mill Middle, and Sally Meyer, gifted teacher at Crabapple Lane Elementary.
Collins thanked a long list of teachers and administrators who she said helped pave the way for her success, including her former principal Sandra Watson.
“Thank you for taking a risk on hiring a newbie and for telling me after your first observation in my classroom that you thought I was a natural. What a great way to instill confidence in a new teacher,” Collins said.
Collins noted that the teacher of the year process has caused her to reflect on who she is and who she wants to be as a teacher. She said teachers have a big part to play in how students feel about their educational journey.
“I definitely do no think that I am the smartest teacher, the teacher who performs the coolest science experiments or the teacher who has the best hallway displays, but I do love my job and I have a passion for what I do each and every day as a kindergarten teacher,” she said.
While the notion of being selected as Fayette’s 2010 Teacher of the Year is still sinking in, Collins said she doesn’t know if she is comfortable with the title and suggested something else that might better identify her.
“I can accept much more easily being called a teacher that is Teacher of the Year-ish.”
Collins finished her acceptance speech with laughs from the audience as she went down a list of the top 10 reasons why she loves teaching kindergarten: #10 – “I am constantly reminded that the world really does revolve around 5-year olds,” #5 – “I know within 10 minutes of school starting if I am having a good hair day or bad hair day,” and her #1 reason on the list, “I am blessed to have the opportunity to encourage my students to become creative thinkers, to help them develop wonderful problem solving skills and to observe them becoming individuals that have a life-long love for learning.”
The finalists were selected from among 29 different teachers of the year at each school. An independent panel of judges, including last year’s TOTY, rated the application of each teacher to select the three finalists. The final judging stage consisted of a classroom observation followed by a one-on-one interview with the finalists. Judges individually rated each finalist. Their scores were combined to determine the winner.
As Fayette’s 2010 TOTY, Collins will represent the county in the Georgia TOTY competition next spring.
Fayette’s annual TOTY program honors the county’s 29 teachers of the year from each elementary, middle and high school. The program would not be possible without the generous contributions of local businesses and organizations.
TOTY winners from each school received plaques from the Coca Cola Bottling Company and a portrait courtesy of Life Touch Photography. Also, Dell Computer, Inc. donated computers to all three finalists and Allan Vigil Ford in Fayetteville gave $500 to both runners up and $1,000 to the winner. Additionally, the winner received a commemorative ring from Balfour and roundtrip airfare for two from AirTran Airlines.