Thomson native Amy Wheatley was chosen as Wilkes County's STAR Teacher by STAR Student Troy Colvard. Mrs. Wheatley is daughter of John and Sue Richards of Thomson, and granddaughter of Mrs. Juanita Johnson, also of Thomson. Mrs. Wheatley is a 1995 graduate of Thomson High School and a 1999 HOPE honor graduate of Augusta State University, where she majored in Spanish and minored in education.
When asked why she chose to be a Spanish teacher, Mrs. Wheatley laughed and said, "Don't get me wrong, I love Spanish. I think being able to speak another language, especially Spanish, is very important in today's world; but I was actually planning to become a history teacher - but so was everyone else at Augusta State - so I worried about job availablity."
Mrs. Wheatley said her love of History probably comes from Thomson High teacher John Barnett.
"I still remember his class nicknames, and I was Amy 'the scholar' Richards," she said. "I am sure I wasn't his first and last scholar, but I did make a perfect score on the history portion of the Georgia High School Graduation Test."
So, Mrs. Wheatley changed her major to Spanish and ended up minoring in education and history. When asked about her Spanish background she says that another Thomson High teacher, Martha Caroline Reddick, was very influential in her decision to become a Spanish teacher.
"Mrs. Reddick exposed us to not only another language, but another culture," Mrs. Wheatley said, adding that she was also a member of the Spanish Club at THS.
This is Mrs. Wheatley's second time being chosen as STAR Teacher. She was chosen two years ago by WWCHS graduate Amanda Brooke. Miss Brooke is currently attending the University of Georgia.
"It is truly an honor when a student picks you as their most influential teacher," Mrs. Wheatley said. "I love my job, but occasionally you wonder 'is anyone listening to me?'"
Obviously Troy Colvard was listening to Mrs. Wheatley.
"She's a phenomenal teacher, always dedicated to teaching us," he said. "For three years, I always looked forward to her classes."
And Mrs. Wheatley looked forward to seeing Troy in her classroom.
"What can I say?" she said. "He is an exemplary student, Troy has wonderful grades, he also scored a perfect score on the English section of his GHSGT, and a perfect score on the writing portion of the SAT. He is very involved in extracurricular activities like the Tiger Marching Band, and he particpated in Governor's Honors last summer. He was truly a dream to teach!"
The Student Teacher Achievement Recognition (STAR) Program was created to focus public attention on Georgia's outstanding students and the teachers who have been most instrumental in their academic development. During the past 49 years, the STAR Program has honored more than 20,000 high school seniors who have in turn chosen their STAR teachers to share in this recognition. Later, Troy and other system STAR students will go on to compete for region-wide honors in the STAR Regions. Region winners and their STAR teachers are invited to Atlanta to compete for the state STAR awards.
The STAR student and teacher will be honored at an upcoming Chamber of Commerce breakfast, said Blake Thompson, President of the Washington-Wilkes Chamber of Commerce, which is the local sponsor of the program.