For Mike Dudley, hearing that his wife, Robin, was named the 2008 McDuffie County Teacher of the Year was no surprise. Even after hearing all of her accomplishments during the awards ceremony, Mr. Dudley realized everything hadn't been covered.
"I'm proud of her," he said. "But she's a better wife and mother than she is teacher."
Mrs. Dudley was given the award Monday night in front of 200 of her colleagues and their family members at a banquet at Belle Meade Country Club. The Georgia Teacher of the Year program is sponsored by the Georgia Department of Education, and recognizes outstanding public school teachers.
"When I became a mother years ago, I asked God to show me how to be a teacher through my child. He knew that I needed remediation, collaboration, differentiation and acceleration. Therefore, he sent me into the classroom and blessed me with 2500 children. Apparently, I had a lot to learn," Mrs. Dudley said in her speech.
And learn she did. As a healthcare science technology teacher at Thomson High School, Mrs. Dudley first had to get her nursing degree from Brenau University-Hall School of Nursing, then work in the nursing field for two years before going back to school for her teaching certificate from the University of Georgia.
In addition to teaching, Mrs. Dudley serves on the boards of McDuffie Regional Medical Center, McDuffie County United Way, McDuffie County Board of Health, McDuffie County Scholarship and Loan Foundation and Augusta Tech Medical Assisting. She has also been named as the state's mentor to new health occupations teachers. This is her second time to be the THS Teacher of the Year, and she has also been the school's STAR Teacher in the past. She is also a sophomore advisor at the high school.
"Evidence of Robin Dudley's 23 years at THS is found in the differences she's made in our community," Principal Rudy Falana said in his introductory speech. "She can do and teach. ...When one enters Mrs. Dudley's classroom, it is impossible not to feel the charge of energy present among her students. ...Mrs. Dudley strives to reach all learners by using multiple teaching techniques. She openly believes that it's the learning, not the teaching, that's important."
Mrs. Dudley was presented a plaque bearing her photo and award, an apple engraved with her name and a large gift-filled basket. The Chamber of Commerce presented the Teacher of the Year from each school with money, coupons and gift certificates from local business members.
"The money in that gift from the Chamber is not to be used on your classroom. Do not spend it on your students, spend it on yourselves for a change," Assistant Superintendent Barry O'Neill joked in his closing remarks.
Candidates for the County Teacher of the Year included the TOTY from each school: Christa Arrington - Dearing Elementary School, Kimberly Hunter - Thomson Elementary School, Becky Morlan - Maxwell Elementary School, Beth Newsome - Thomson Middle School, Tonya Powell - Norris Elementary School and Sherika Warthen - Crossroads Learning Center.