The Undersea World of Jenna Cloninger! 2025 Gwinnett County Public School Teacher of The Year

Featured In Gwinnett Magazine Winter Edition 2024

In the bustling halls of Central Gwinnett High School, students in 10th to 12th grade are diving into an unexpected adventure—Oceanography. Led by the passionate and innovative Mrs. Jenna Cloninger, the Oceanography program has become a buoy of excitement and discovery. What makes this story even more thrilling is that many students and parents may not have realized that high school could be the gateway to a deep exploration of the ocean.

Mrs. Cloninger, a dynamic educator with five years of experience in the classroom, believes that science is for everyone. She earned a bachelor’s degree in Biology from the University of North Georgia and a master’s degree in Instructional Technology from Kennesaw State University. In her biology-rooted journey, she discovered the vastness of the ocean and found a way to make it accessible and intriguing for her students.

“I create an inclusive environment in my classroom by honoring student voice and choice,” she shares.

Her dedication to providing a culturally relevant curriculum has resulted in students leaving her class with a profound understanding of how the ocean impacts each and every person on the planet, irrespective of their background or status.

But Mrs. Cloninger’s impact goes beyond the classroom. She is also a proud supporter of ‘S.H.I.E.L.D.,’ an initiative that has transformed tutoring services into a collaborative approach, turning a potentially mundane task into an engaging learning experience.

“S.H.I.E.L.D. has improved our school’s culture by providing a positive learning environment in which students do not feel that tutoring is a punishment or a chore,” she proudly states.

And now the spotlight shines even brighter on Mrs. Cloninger. Gwinnett County Public Schools has named her the 2025 Teacher of the Year, the pinnacle of recognition for an educator. At the glittering event held at the Gas South Convention Center, Mrs. Cloninger stood tall among the 141 local school Teachers of The Year, six TOTY finalists, and 19 other outstanding educators.

Before clinching the prestigious Teacher of the Year title, Mrs. Cloninger had already been recognized as the 2025 Gwinnett County High School Teacher of the Year. Her journey to the top began at the start of the school year when teachers from throughout the district nominated and selected 141 representatives. Committees then meticulously narrowed down the selection to the top six, with Mrs. Cloninger emerging victorious.

Her success isn’t just a personal triumph; it’s a testament to the transformative power of passion and dedication. Mrs. Cloninger’s love for oceanography, combined with her commitment to creating an inclusive learning environment, has not only earned her the title of Teacher of the Year but has also opened doors for students to explore the wonders of the ocean right in their high school classrooms.

As the accolades pour in, Mrs. Cloninger remains an inspiration, proving that when you do what you love, it not only shows but makes all the difference—in the lives of students and the broader educational community. The excitement continues to ripple through Central Gwinnett High School as the oceanography program gains momentum, with Mrs. Cloninger at the helm, steering her students towards a future filled with knowledge, curiosity, and endless possibilities.