It was not like she imagined, but it was everything she had dreamed.
When announcing the 10 finalists for state Teacher of the Year, Robin Dudley always thought the state Department of Education would notify the county superintendent, who would then notify the school principal, who would then notify the teacher.
So Tuesday morning, when Mrs. Dudley received a phone call, she expected to hear one of her clinical students on the other end of the line. Instead, it was a representative from the Georgia DOE offering congratulations on being named a finalist.
"It was the reverse of what I had imagined. ... I was checking students in and out of clinical rotations, so it's common for me to get phone calls at that time," Mrs. Dudley said. "When I heard the lady say 'congratulations,' I said 'who is this?' When she told me, I was surprised, shocked and honored all in the same thought."
Mrs. Dudley, who is the healthcare science technology teacher at Thomson High School, was named McDuffie County Teacher of the Year last October, and was selected from 147 local districts to be one of the 10 finalists for the statewide honor.
"She's definitely deserving, she's touched so many different lives in so many different ways as both a nurse and an educator," THS Assistant Principal Lynn Cato said. "It's quite and honor and a well-deserved one at that."
Finalists were chosen based on their biographies and essay responses to eight questions ranging from personal teaching philosophy to the issues facing education.
A separate panel of judges will visit the classroom of each finalist, observe them teaching and follow up with another interview.
After 23 years of teaching at THS, the observation process does not intimidate Mrs. Dudley. When the judges visit her classroom on Feb. 21, she plans to teach a surgical unit and perform a procedure with her students.
"I look forward to that," she said. "I'll try to engage the judges in the learning process. They're going to be involved in the lesson, so it'll be more exciting for them instead of sitting there with paper and pens. It'll help them better understand what it's like to be a student."
Each of the 10 finalists will be honored and interviewed at a luncheon in Atlanta on March 9, and the Georgia Teacher of the Year will be named at a banquet in Atlanta on March 29.
According to Ms. Cato, Mrs. Dudley is the third teacher from McDuffie County to make the top 10 in the last 10 years, along with Kelly Flanders and Sherry Allen.