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Colleagues select the top educators

McDuffie County Schools announced their Teachers of the Year for 2010 this past week.

"Teaching in McDuffie County allows me the opportunity to give back to the community that has given me so much," said Norris Elementary's teacher of the year, Tamara Hammond. "This has always been my home, and teaching has always been my calling. I am thankful that the McDuffie BOE welcomed me home as a first-year teacher 16 years ago."

One teacher at seven of the system's eight schools was named the school's Teacher of the Year. The top teacher is chosen by their peers.

"I was surprised and appreciative that my colleagues believed in me," said Felicia Cullars, a six-year veteran at Thomson Middle School. "It is an honor that I share with everyone at TMS because their continuous love and support are what drives me to be the educator that I am today."

Each school's winner will compete for the honor of being named the McDuffie County Teacher of the Year, which will be announced at the end of October. Once an overall winner is selected, that teacher's application will be submitted to the Georgia Department of Education for the state-level competition.

Teachers of all subjects and every grade level are included in the competition. They must answer essay questions concerning their philosophies of teaching as part of the process.

"Middle school students are constantly changing. For example, what they learned today, they might forget tomorrow, or what works today might not work tomorrow," said Thomson-McDuffie Junior High's teacher of the year, Latrasha Palmer. "Therefore, as the teacher, I choose to ride the roller coaster with my students -- enjoying the ups and downs, the ins and outs and the flips and turns, regardless of each student's diversity. They keep me optimistic and well provisioned about life, because what is life without change?"

The essays and applications will be reviewed by a panel of judges, who will visit each candidate at their school, observe them in the classroom and conduct a short interview. The winner will then be announced at the annual banquet honoring all candidates on Oct. 26.

McDuffie County Teachers of the Year

Felicia Cullars, Thomson Middle School

Tamara Hammond, Norris Elementary School

Lisa Hawkins, Maxwell Elementary School

Kathy Neal, Thomson High School

Latrasha Palmer, Thomson-McDuffie Junior High School

Tabitha Purvis, Thomson Elementary School

Emily Reese, Dearing Elementary School

Web posted on Thursday, August 27, 2009

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