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2021-22 Teacher of the Year: Local educators honored as schools select Teachers of the Year

September 28, 2021

     The first step of the district’s search for its 2021-22 Gwinnett County Public Schools (GCPS) Teacher of the Year (TOTY) is complete and 139 local school Teachers of the Year have been designated as tops in their schools.

    “All of Gwinnett County owes our teachers a debt of gratitude for all they do to make sure our students are college and career ready and their futures remain bright,” said Dr. Clay Hunter, assistant superintendent for Curriculum and Instructional Support. “Despite the challenge of teaching during this pandemic, our teachers continue to display heroic efforts to ensure students are ready to make their mark on the world. Our students continue to achieve because they have been taught by the greatest generation of teachers that this nation has ever produced. We all join in a chorus of celebration for our teachers of the year.”

     These 139 local school honorees will move into the next phase of the TOTY process as they are considered for the system-wide honor. In October, this group will be narrowed down to 25 semifinalists. From that group, six finalists will be chosen in mid-November. On December 7, 2021, GCPS will host a virtual celebration honoring this year’s finalists and naming the top teacher in Gwinnett County.

     Here’s an overview of the selection process:

Step 1:  All teachers at each participating Gwinnett school nominate and vote for their local school Teacher of the Year. 

Step 2:  The applications for all 139 school-level Teachers of the Year are screened and 25 semifinalists for the county-level honor are selected.

Step 3:  The 25 semifinalists’ applications are scored to determine the six finalists.

Step 4:  A selection committee—made up of teachers, central office personnel, and administrators—will conduct in-person and virtual visits and complete thorough interviews with each educator. The committee will look for original teaching methods, study the educator’s teaching philosophy, consider the influence the teacher has had on the teaching practices of his or her colleagues, and review any special class projects the teacher has initiated.

Step 5: From the six finalists, the committee will select a Teacher of the Year for each level—elementary, middle, and high. One of the level winners will be recognized as GCPS’ 2021-22 Teacher of the Year. 

GCPS’ 2021-22 Local School Teachers of the Year (TOTYs)

Alcova Elementary School, Jennifer Bishop, 1st Grade Teacher

Alford Elementary School, Natalia Pyle, 1st Grade Teacher

Anderson-Livsey Elementary School, Taylor Nicole Thomas, Kindergarten Teacher

Annistown Elementary School, Felica Williams, Kindergarten Teacher

Arcado Elementary School, Jamie Garcia Caycho, 1st Grade Teacher

Archer High School, Lee Allen, Algebra Teacher (Grade 9)

Baggett Elementary School, Lucas Findlay, Science Teacher (Grades K-5)

Baldwin Elementary School, Rebecca Patterson, STEM Teacher (Grades K-5)

Bay Creek Middle School, Rebecca Brown, Science Teacher (Grade 7)

Beaver Ridge Elementary School, Christine Bhachech, 4th Grade Teacher

Benefield Elementary School, Rachel Howard, Local School Technology Coordinator and Computer Science Teacher (Grades K-2)

Berkeley Lake Elementary School, Bonnie Walsh, 1st Grade Teacher

Berkmar High School, Dr. Sonia Howard, Chemistry Teacher (Grade 10)

Berkmar Middle School, Taniesha Pooser, Orchestra Teacher (Grades 6-8)

Bethesda Elementary School, Diana Ramirez-Gomez, Dual Language Immersion Teacher – Mathematics and Science – Spanish (Grade 2)

Britt Elementary School, Breana Vining, Early Intervention Program Teacher (Grades 2 and 3)

Brookwood Elementary School, Dr. Nancy Kluge, Kindergarten Teacher

Brookwood High School, Erin Thompson, AP Statistics and Gifted Pre-calculus Teacher (Grades 9-12)

Buice Center, Shanice Turner, Special Education Teacher – Mathematics (Grades 9-12)

Burnette Elementary School, Christy Cochran, Physical Education Teacher (Grades K-5)

Camp Creek Elementary School, Jennifer Gebczyk, Music Teacher (Grades K-5)

Cedar Hill Elementary School, Allison Quevedo, Gifted and Advanced Content Teacher (Grades 4-5)

Centerville Elementary School, Denise Baccus, Media Specialist  (Grades K-5)

Central Gwinnett High School, Judith Chavarria, Biology, AP Biology, and Ecology Teacher (Grades 9 and 12)

Chattahoochee Elementary School, Debby Torak, 1st Grade Teacher

Chesney Elementary School, Martine Legagneur-Alcin, 1st Grade Teacher

Coleman Middle School, Brittany Davis, Spanish Teacher (Grades 6-8)

Collins Hill High School, Maggie Harper, English to Speakers of Other Languages Teacher (Grades 9-12)

Cooper Elementary School, Pamela Hart, Special Education Teacher – Interrelated Resource (Grade 1)

Corley Elementary School, Jafria Wooden, Early Intervention Program and English to Speakers of Other Languages Teacher (Grades K-5)

Couch Middle School, Jasmine Clay, Special Education Teacher – Mathematics (Grade 8)

Craig Elementary School, Chimere Burns-Filonenko, 2nd Grade Teacher

Creekland Middle School, Jessica Schiereck, Language Arts Teacher (Grade 7)

Crews Middle School, Sabrina Robertson, Chorus Teacher (Grades 6-8)

Dacula Elementary School, Susan Hunter, Kindergarten Teacher

Dacula High School, Brandi Poore, Special Education Teacher – Severe and Profound Intellectual Disabilities (Grades 9-12)

Dacula Middle School, Katrina Clavon, Special Education Teacher – Interrelated Resource – Language Arts (Grade 6)

Discovery High School, Brandon T. Baker, Chorus Teacher (Grades 9-12)

Duluth High School, Shawn M. Morton, Orchestra Teacher (Grades 9-12)

Duluth Middle School, Lien Huynh, Social Studies Teacher (Grade 7)

Duncan Creek Elementary School, Jennifer Chandler, 3rd Grade Teacher

Dyer Elementary School, Jamie Sturgeon, Special Education Teacher – Interrelated Resource – Language Arts and Mathematics (Grades 3 and 5)

Ferguson Elementary School, Diane Cawthon, Special Education Teacher – Autism Spectrum Disorder (Level 1) (Grades K-5)

Five Forks Middle School, Matt Tankersley, Band Teacher (Grades 6-8)

Fort Daniel Elementary School, Kevin Glausier, Physical Education Teacher (Grades K-5)

Freeman's Mill Elementary School, Lisa Brownlee, Art Teacher (Grades K-5)

GIVE Center East, Brenda G. Clark, Chemistry Teacher (Grade 10)

GIVE Center West, Emily Eigel, Algebra I Teacher (Grade 9)

Grace Snell Middle School, Amelia Massey, Special Education Teacher – Interrelated Resource – Language Arts (Grade 6)

Graves Elementary School, Elanna Worthy, 3rd Grade Teacher

Grayson Elementary School, Kristen Davis, Language Arts, Mathematics, and Science Teacher (Grade 3)

Grayson High School, Linn Zamora, Visual Arts and Photography Teacher (Grades 9-12)

Gwin Oaks Elementary School, Sara Stephenson, 1st Grade Teacher

Gwinnett Online Campus, David Wise, Science Teacher (Grade 6)

Gwinnett School of Mathematics, Science, and Technology, Laurie Duke, Chorus Teacher (Grades 9-12)

Harbins Elementary School, Katie Walker, 1st Grade Teacher

Harmony Elementary School, Hannah England, Computer Science Teacher (Grades K-5)

Harris Elementary School, Carly Spivey, 1st Grade Teacher

Head Elementary School, Rachel Stallworth, 1st Grade Teacher

Hopkins Elementary School, Dr. Melissa L. Cable, Science and Social Studies Teacher (Grade 4)

Hull Middle School, Kanisha Sherman, Mathematics Teacher (Grade 6)

International Transition Center, Andrea Anderson, Mathematics and Ecology Teacher (Grades 9-12)

Ivy Creek Elementary School, Angela Williams, Dual Language Immersion Teacher – Language Arts and Social Studies – English (Kindergarten)

Jackson Elementary School, Sara Hersch, 4th Grade Teacher

Jenkins Elementary School, Stacey Lackey, Kindergarten Teacher

Jones Middle School, Alyson Carroll, Special Education Teacher – Emotional Behavioral Disorder – Core Subjects and Affective Skills (Grades 6-8)

Jordan Middle School, Vonda Smalls, Special Education Teacher – Interrelated Resource (Grade 7)

Kanoheda Elementary School, Pamela Singh, Special Education Teacher – Specific Learning Disabilities (Grade 2)

Knight Elementary School, Verenice Romo, Mathematics, Science, and Social Studies Teacher (Grade 5)

Lanier High School, Jordan Brannen, AP U.S. History Teacher (Grade 11)

Lanier Middle School, Angelique Sharpe, Algebra I Teacher (Grade 8)

Lawrenceville Elementary School, Katie Rawlins, 2nd Grade Teacher

Level Creek Elementary School, Stacey Speicher, 2nd Grade Teacher

Lilburn Elementary School, Kemmer Tsirigos, 1st Grade Teacher

Lilburn Middle School, LaTonja DeCambre, Social Studies Teacher (Grade 8)

Lovin Elementary School, Vema Edwards, Special Education Teacher – Interrelated Resource (Grades K-2)

Magill Elementary School, Suzette Kinsey, Kindergarten Teacher

Mason Elementary School, Kumari A. Baker, Special Education Teacher – Interrelated Resource (Grades K-5)

Maxwell High School of Technology, Brandon Myers, Career and Technical Education Teacher – Manufacturing (Grades 10-12)

McClure Health Science High School, Katie Kangas, Algebra I and AP Statistics Teacher (Grades 9-12)

McConnell Middle School, Toosdhi Ashley, Physical Science Teacher (Grade 8)

McKendree Elementary School, Amanda Rowberry, 5th Grade Teacher

Meadowcreek Elementary School, Crisleyda Almonte, Dual Language Immersion Teacher – Mathematics and Science – Spanish (Grade 2)

Meadowcreek High School, Wanda L. Moon, Accelerated Geometry, Pre-calculus, and AP Calculus AB Teacher (Grades 9-12)

Mill Creek High School, Laurel Christopher, Economics Teacher (Grade 12)

Minor Elementary School, Jessica Carlson, Special Education Teacher – Interrelated Resource (Grades K and 1)

Moore Middle School, Sonta Murray, Mathematics Teacher (Grade 7)

Mountain Park Elementary School, Emily McGilvray, 4th Grade Teacher

Mountain View High School, Gretchen Galvin, Special Education Teacher – Autism Spectrum Disorder (Level 4) (Grades 9-12)

Mulberry Elementary School, Terry Spalding, Speech-Language Pathologist  (Grades K-5)

Nesbit Elementary School, Monique DePass, Kindergarten Teacher

Norcross Elementary School, Dr. LaTonya Parker, Language Arts, Science, and Social Studies Teacher (Grade 5)

Norcross High School, Maria Peña, Language Arts Teacher (Grade 10)

North Gwinnett High School, John Rhilinger, Latin Teacher (Grades 9-12)

North Gwinnett Middle School, Jenny Stark, Media Specialist  (Grades 6-8)

Northbrook Middle School, Tricia Boston, Visual Arts Teacher (Grades 6-8)

Norton Elementary School, Dr. LaDonna Hollis, 4th Grade Teacher

Oakland Meadow School, Sandra Lisic, Special Education Teacher – Severe and Profound Intellectual Disabilities (Grades 9-12)

Osborne Middle School, Nicole Merrill, Special Education Teacher – Interrelated Resource – Language Arts (Grade 7)

Parkview High School, Anela Buljubasic, Language Arts Teacher (Grade 9)

Parsons Elementary School, Sheri Phillips, Speech-Language Pathologist  (Pre-K)

Partee Elementary School, Tonya Merl, Mathematics, Science, and Social Studies Teacher (Grade 4)

Patrick Elementary School, James Mack, Special Education Teacher – Emotional Behavioral Disorder (Grades 3-5)

Paul Duke STEM High School, Brooke Skelton, Career and Technical Education Teacher – Audio-Visual Technology and Film (Grades 9-12)

Peachtree Elementary School, Yuenye Yolanda Sato, 5th Grade Teacher

Peachtree Ridge High School, Dr. Andy Edwards, Music Technology Teacher (Grades 9-12)

Pharr Elementary School, Heather Perry, Special Education Teacher – Autism Spectrum Disorder (Level 1) (Grades K-3)

Phoenix High School, Paige Lutes, Language Arts Teacher (Grade 11)

Pinckneyville Middle School, Josie Ebert, Algebra I and Accelerated Algebra I Teacher (Grade 8)

Puckett's Mill Elementary School, Kelly Powell, Mathematics, Science, and Social Studies Teacher (Grade 4)

Radloff Middle School, Demetrius Polk, Social Studies Teacher (Grades 6-8)

Richards Middle School, Lauren Glover, Gifted Mathematics Teacher (Grade 7)

Riverside Elementary School, Rita Arsenault, Kindergarten Teacher

Roberts Elementary School, Shea Criss, 2nd Grade Teacher

Rock Springs Elementary School, Leigh Ann Lacey, Kindergarten Teacher

Rockbridge Elementary School, Sahar Samani, STEM Teacher (Grades K-5)

Rosebud Elementary School, Monica Manis, Mathematics, Science, and Social Studies Teacher (Grade 4)

Shiloh Elementary School, Racquel Samuels, Kindergarten Teacher

Shiloh High School, Dr. Krystal Tomlin, Career and Technical Education Teacher – Essentials of Healthcare and Pharmacy (Grades 9-12)

Shiloh Middle School, Alexis Paige Pritchett, Physical Science Teacher (Grade 8)

Simonton Elementary School, Traci Rojo, Mathematics, Science, and Social Studies Teacher (Grade 4)

Simpson Elementary School, Nicole Charloff, 2nd Grade Teacher

Snellville Middle School, Lynn Thacker, Special Education Teacher – Interrelated Resource – Mathematics and Science (Grade 7)

South Gwinnett High School, Kandra Malone, Career and Technical Education Teacher – Business and Marketing Education (Grades 9-12)

Starling Elementary School, Heather C. Lewis, 1st Grade Teacher

Stripling Elementary School, Melanie Owens, Kindergarten Teacher

Sugar Hill Elementary School, Margaret Tontillo, Language Arts, Mathematics, and Science Teacher (Grade 4)

Summerour Middle School, Edith Holbrook Riehm, Social Studies Teacher (Grade 8)

Suwanee Elementary School, Karen Phillips, STEM Teacher (Grades K-5)

Sweetwater Middle School, Justice Ejike, Physical Science Teacher (Grade 8)

Sycamore Elementary School, Cynthia Bennett, Science and Social Studies Teacher (Grade 5)

Taylor Elementary School, Nancy Blumenthal, Reading Recovery and Early Intervention Program Teacher (Grade 1)

Trickum Middle School, Bianca Woods, Social Studies Teacher (Grade 6)

Trip Elementary School, Amanda Dysart, Language Arts and Social Studies Teacher (Grade 4)

Twin Rivers Middle School, Andrew Cox, Science Teacher (Grade 8)

Walnut Grove Elementary School, Laurie Rundqwist, STEM Teacher (Grades K-5)

White Oak Elementary School, Melissa Neely, Local School Technology Coordinator  (Grades K-5)

Winn Holt Elementary School, Becca Brown, 4th Grade Teacher

Woodward Mill Elementary School, Monica Gassman, Local School Technology Coordinator  (Grades K-5)


New Life Academy of Excellence and North Metro Academy of Performing Arts are not participating in this year’s Teacher of the Year celebration.