Connect with us

Local Educators Honored as Schools Select Teachers of the Year

The first step of the district’s search for its 2016-17 Gwinnett County Public Schools (GCPS) Teacher of the Year (TOTY) is complete and 135 local school Teachers of the Year have been designated as tops in their schools.

“These teachers are passionate and committed to ensuring their students have a bright future,” says Dr. Nikki Mouton, executive director of Curriculum and Instruction. “And during a year when we are celebrating the promise of our students, staff, and community-at-large this is a great opportunity to highlight and honor the teachers who are fulfilling the Promise of Gwinnett every single day. Our local TOTYs are selected by their colleagues which is an honor because they understand what it means to be an effective teacher. They know first-hand the time, energy, and commitment required of teachers. The selection of this year’s local school winners is a testament to the honor and respect they command at each of their local schools.”

Every year, the school system honors the passion and commitment of its teachers during the annual Teacher of the Year recognition process that takes place each fall. These 135 local school honorees will move into the next phase of the TOTY process as they are considered for the system wide honor. Later this month, this group will be narrowed down to 25 semi-finalists. From that group, six finalists will be chosen in mid-October. The annual Teacher of the Year banquet and the announcement of this year’s top teacher in Gwinnett County will be held on Thursday, November 10, 2016.

Here’s an overview of the selection process:

Step 1 — All teachers at each participating Gwinnett school nominate and vote for their local school Teacher of the Year.

Step 2 — The applications for all 135 school-level Teachers of the Year are screened and 25 semifinalists for the county-level are selected.

Step 3 — The 25 semifinalists applications are scored to determine the six finalists.

Step 4 — A selection committee made up of teachers, central office personnel, and administrators visits the classrooms of the six finalists and conducts thorough interviews with each educator. The committee looks for original teaching methods, studies the educators teaching philosophy, considers the influence the teacher has had on the teaching practices of his/her colleagues, and reviews any special class projects the teacher has initiated.

Step 5 — From the six finalists, the committee will select a Teacher of the Year for each level elementary, middle, and high. One of the level winners will be recognized as GCPS 2016-17 Teacher of the Year.


2016-17 Local Teachers of the Year


Alcova Elementary School, Jona Bowman, 4th Grade Teacher

Alford Elementary School, Alicia Fultz, 4th Grade Teacher

Anderson-Livsey Elementary School, Calrissian Cal Haines, 1st Grade Teacher

Annistown Elementary School, Nicole Renae Andreas, Visual Arts Teacher (Grades K-5)

Arcado Elementary School, Dolores Garcia, Special Education Teacher Interrelated Resource (Grade 3)

Archer High School, Jennifer Crawford, Language Arts Teacher (Grade 9)

Baggett Elementary School, Robert Papes, 2nd Grade Teacher

Baldwin Elementary School, Kara Gazaway, Math Specialist (Grades K-5)

Bay Creek Middle School, Hope Culpepper, Social Studies Teacher (Grade 7)

Beaver Ridge Elementary School, LaToya Denbow, Kindergarten Teacher

Benefield Elementary School, Amy Kruger, English to Speakers of Other Languages Teacher (Grades K-5)

Berkeley Lake Elementary School, Berkley Fain, 5th Grade Teacher

Berkmar High School, Christopher Pae, U.S. History Teacher (Grade 11)

Berkmar Middle School, Kristin Morris, Instructional Coach (Grades 6-8)

Bethesda Elementary School, Kimberly Peterson, Project Based Learning Teacher (Grades K-5)

Britt Elementary School, Barvette Gourdine, 2nd Grade Teacher

Brookwood Elementary School, Jennifer Anne Moon, Gifted Education Teacher -Language Arts (Grade 5 and Special Areas)

Brookwood High School, Stephanie Timmons, Language Arts Teacher (Grades 11 and 12)

Burnette Elementary School, Amanda Yetter, Special Education Teacher Interrelated Resource (Grade 3)

Camp Creek Elementary School, Christina Evanina, Special Education Teacher Autism Spectrum Disorder Resource (Grades K-5)

Cedar Hill Elementary School, Gary Fryns, 4th Grade Teacher

Centerville Elementary School, Gena Jackson, 4th Grade Teacher

Central Gwinnett High School, Debra Palmer, Language Arts Teacher (Grade 11)

Chattahoochee Elementary School, Brian Sinyard, 4th Grade Teacher (Grades)

Chesney Elementary School, Shannon Jameson, Science Teacher (Grades K-5)

Coleman Middle School, Kelli Perry, Mathematics Teacher (Grade 8)

Collins Hill High School, Josh Rowan, Mathematics Teacher (Grades 9-12)

Cooper Elementary School, Julie Pemberton, Gifted Education Teacher (Grades 2-3)

Corley Elementary School, Valerie Mateen, 5th Grade Teacher

Couch Middle School, Rebekah Castner, Chorus Teacher (Grades 6-8)

Craig Elementary School, Amy McLester, 1st Grade Teacher

Creekland Middle School, Ashley Worley Duncan, Special Education Teacher Autism Spectrum Disorder Resource (Grades 6-8)

Crews Middle School, Sara Thornton, Life Science Teacher (Grade 7)

Dacula Elementary School, Nicole Elizabeth Briggs, Kindergarten Teacher

Dacula High School, Robert Mangino, Science Teacher (Grade 9)

Dacula Middle School, Doris Ligon, Special Education Teacher Specific Learning Disabilities Self-Contained (Grades 6-8)

Discovery High School, Valerie Lewis, Special Education Teacher Literature (Grades 11 and 12)

Duluth High School, Kirsten Lombardo, U.S. History Teacher (Grades 9-12)

Duluth Middle School, Brandy J. Carter, Theatre Arts Teacher (Grades 6-8)

Duncan Creek Elementary School, Angela Hayes, 4th Grade Teacher

Dyer Elementary School, Michelle Godfrey, 1st Grade Teacher

Ferguson Elementary School, Kathryn Hancock, Instructional Coach (Grades K and 1)

Five Forks Middle School, Sarah Erickson, Visual Arts Teacher (Grades 6-8)

Fort Daniel Elementary School, Peggy Murphy, 5th Grade Teacher

Freeman’s Mill Elementary School, Marni Rogers, 1st Grade Teacher

GIVE Center East, Stephanie Harris Reed, Mathematics Teacher (Grades 9-12)

GIVE Center West, Alexander T. Robson, Language Arts Teacher (Grades 6 and 7)

Grace Snell Middle School, Jenise Sexton, Mathematics Coach (Grade 8)

Graves Elementary School, Philip Matthew Bemiss, 4th Grade Teacher

Grayson Elementary School, Christi Umans, Visual Arts Teacher (Grades K-5)

Grayson High School, Jenny Beck, Chemistry Teacher (Grades 10-12)

Gwin Oaks Elementary School, Amy Granger, 1st Grade Teacher

Gwinnett Online Campus, Kristi Rhine, Health and PE Teacher (Grades 9-12)

Gwinnett School of Mathematics, Science, and Technology, Elfi Funk, AP Macroeconomics and AP Microeconomics Teacher (Grade 12)

Harbins Elementary School, Amy Crook, Kindergarten Teacher and Reading Recovery Teacher

Harmony Elementary School, Tina Lee, 5th Grade Teacher

Harris Elementary School, Kenda C. Gilbert, Health and PE Teacher (Grades K-5)

Head Elementary School, Melanie Leyva-Abad, Special Education Teacher Moderate Intellectual Disabilities (Grades K-1)

Hopkins Elementary School, Elshanda Chapman, English to Speakers of Other Languages Teacher (Grades K-5)

Hull Middle School, Amy E. Stewart, Language Arts Teacher (Grade 7)

Ivy Creek Elementary School, Deanna Whittaker, 2nd Grade Teacher

Jackson Elementary School, Kristen Matesevac, Specials Teacher Mathematics (Grades K-4)

Jenkins Elementary School, Karen A. Phillips, 5th Grade Teacher

Jones Middle School, Lydia Killian, Speech Language Pathologist (Grades 6-8)

Jordan Middle School, Stacey Edison-Bryson, Engineering and STEM Teacher (Grades 6-8)

Kanoheda Elementary School, Amanda Ansell, Special Education Teacher Significant Developmental Delay (Grade 1)

Knight Elementary School, Becki Kelly, 2nd Grade Teacher

Lanier High School, Tamika Barnes, Special Education Teacher Interrelated Resource (Grade 11)

Lanier Middle School, Blake Baldwin, Social Studies Teacher (Grade 8)

Lawrenceville Elementary School, Alma E. Tallaksen, Science Specialist (Grades 6-8)

Level Creek Elementary School, Tendayi Taylor, 3rd Grade Teacher

Lilburn Elementary School, Tomika Freeman, Kindergarten Teacher

Lilburn Middle School, Hawa Lansanah, Mathematics Connections Teacher (Grades 6-8)

Lovin Elementary School, Nikki Bass, English to Speakers of Other Languages Teacher (Grades K-5)

Magill Elementary School, Alicia Byrd, Special Education Teacher Moderate Intellectual Disabilities (Grades K-3)

Mason Elementary School, Lesley Longino Hill, Literacy Coach and Reading Recovery Teacher (Grades K-5)

Maxwell High School of Technology, Monica Collins, Healthcare Therapeutic Services Teacher (Grades 10-12)

McConnell Middle School, Kimberly Yarini, Mathematics Teacher (Grade 8)

McKendree Elementary School, Ann Botta, Literacy Coach (Grades 3-5)

Meadowcreek Elementary School, Ashlei Haskell, Early Intervention Program Teacher (Grades K-5)

Meadowcreek High School, Chris Reas, U.S. History Teacher (Grade 11)

Mill Creek High School, Benjamin T. Queen, AP Government and AP Microeconomics Teacher (Grades 9-12)

Minor Elementary School, Kayla Green, Special Education Teacher Deaf and Hard of Hearing Self-Contained (Grade 3)

Moore Middle School, Nicole A. Johnson, Mathematics and Social Studies Teacher (Grade 6)

Mountain Park Elementary School, Casey Weltch, 1st Grade Teacher

Mountain View High School, Brad Blackmon, AP World History Teacher (Grade 10)

Mulberry Elementary School, Brittany Mayweather, 4th Grade Teacher

Nesbit Elementary School, Jamye Anna Royster, 5th Grade Teacher

Norcross Elementary School, Avalla Cleveland, 1st Grade Teacher

Norcross High School, Luke Smith, Mathematics Teacher (Grades 9-12)

North Gwinnett High School, Jennifer Pinkerton, Language Arts Teacher (Grade 11)

North Gwinnett Middle School, Tori Loke, Language Arts Teacher (Grade 7)

Northbrook Middle School, Danielle Tuthill, Physical Science Teacher (Grade 8)

Norton Elementary School, Lineica M. Maupins, Special Education Teacher Emotional Behavior Disorders (Grades 3 and 4)

Oakland Meadow School, Melissa M. Bowen, Special Education Teacher (Grade 12)

Osborne Middle School, Christopher Reese, Special Education Teacher Autism Spectrum Disorder (Grades 6-8)

Parkview High School, Heidi Cooley, Biology Teacher (Grade 9)

Parsons Elementary School, Jennifer Lee, 4th Grade Teacher

Partee Elementary School, Allison Adams, 5th Grade Teacher

Patrick Elementary School, Katie Lessard, 4th Grade Teacher

Peachtree Elementary School, Misty Alexander, Special Education Teacher (Grades K-2)

Peachtree Ridge High School, Bernadette Scruggs, Orchestra Teacher (Grades 9-12)

Pharr Elementary School, Jon Jurick, Health and PE Teacher (Grades K-5)

Phoenix High School, Matthew M. Winking, Mathematics Teacher (Grades 10-12)

Pinckneyville Middle School, Lisa Hamilton, Social Studies Teacher (Grade 8)

Puckett’s Mill Elementary School, Kelly Wilkinson, Special Education Teacher Severe and Profound Intellectual Disabilities (Grades 3-5)

Radloff Middle School, Dawson Devitt, Algebra Teacher (Grade 8)

Richards Middle School, Michael Spivey, STEM Connections Teacher (Grades 6-8)

Riverside Elementary School, Pam Axley, 5th Grade Teacher

Roberts Elementary School, Angela Heald, Speech Language Pathologist (Grades K-5)

Rock Springs Elementary School, Jamie McFarland, Special Education Teacher Profound Intellectual Disabilities (Grades 3-5)

Rockbridge Elementary School, Tiffany Rackley, Music Teacher (Grades K-5)

Rosebud Elementary School, Dayvener Geter, 2nd Grade Teacher

Shiloh Elementary School, Kaitie Finkenhoefer, 1st Grade Teacher

Shiloh High School, Shawn T. Lee, U.S. History Teacher (Grade 11)

Shiloh Middle School, Genine Bonaby, Media Specialist (Grades 6-8)

Simonton Elementary School, Stacey Philyaw, 5th Grade Teacher

Simpson Elementary School, Julianna Donaldson, Kindergarten Teacher

Snellville Middle School, Myra Bodrick, Gifted Education Teacher Language Arts (Grade 7)

South Gwinnett High School, Heather Sewell Harris, American Literature and Composition Teacher (Grade 11)

Starling Elementary School, Julie Wangsness, 4th Grade Teacher

Stripling Elementary School, April Connor, Special Education Teacher Moderate Intellectual Disabilities Self-Contained (Grades K-3)

Sugar Hill Elementary School, Christine DeNucci, Special Education Teacher Autism Spectrum Disorder (Grades 3-5)

Summerour Middle School, Lisa-Renee Gilford, Language Arts Teacher (Grade 8)

Suwanee Elementary School, Soo Son, 3rd Grade Teacher

Sweetwater Middle School, Mareka Wilcox, Mathematics Teacher (Grade 8)

Sycamore Elementary School, Karen Peralta, English to Speakers of Other Languages Teacher (Grade K-5)

Taylor Elementary School, Julie McGee, 5th Grade Teacher

Trickum Middle School, Tristin N. Hayes, Mathematics Teacher (Grade 7)

Trip Elementary School, Cassandra Raymond, Special Education Teacher Autism Spectrum Disorder (Grades K-1)

Twin Rivers Middle School, Nat Christman, Social Studies Teacher (Grade 6)

Walnut Grove Elementary School, Ashley Story, Kindergarten Teacher

White Oak Elementary School, Lisa Hawkins, 1st Grade Teacher

Winn Holt Elementary School, Shabina Serajee, 3rd Grade Teacher

Woodward Mill Elementary School, Nicole Z. Smith, Special Education Teacher Interrelated Resource (Grades 1 and 2)


The following schools are not participating in GCPS teacher of the Year: ADAPT/STRIVE at Northbrook Center, The BRIDGE at Northbrook Center, New Life Academy of Excellence, and North Metro Academy of Performing Arts.