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2022-23 Teacher of the Year: Local educators honored as schools select Teachers of the Year

September 12, 2022

     The first step of the district’s search for its 2022-23 Gwinnett County Public Schools (GCPS) Teacher of the Year (TOTY) is complete and 141 local school Teachers of the Year have been designated as tops in their schools.

     “The Teacher of the Year celebration is one way our community lifts up and honors our incredible teachers,” says Ms. DeNelle West, GCPS Chief Learning Officer. “The commitment of our teachers is unwavering, and we continue to be humbled by their efforts each day. There is a special energy that starts every summer when our teachers dedicate days from their summer break to engage in learning in preparation for a new school year. This energy continues through pre-planning as our dedicated teachers join their colleagues in preparing the school and their classrooms for the incoming students. By the time we launch the first day of school, our teachers are the first to celebrate each of our students as they take their first steps on campus for a brand-new school year. They create that same magic each day to ensure our students are welcomed, seen, respected, and honored as they learn.”

     The 141 local school honorees will move into the next phase of the TOTY process as they are considered for the system-wide honor. Later this month, this group will be narrowed down to 25 semifinalists. From that group, six finalists will be chosen in early October. On November 10, 2022, GCPS will host a celebration honoring this year’s local school teachers of the year, finalists, and the naming of 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 141 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’ 2022-23 Teacher of the Year. 

GCPS’ 2022-23 Local School Teachers of the Year (TOTYs)

Alcova Elementary School, Sara Van Nus, STEM/STEAM Teacher (Grades K-5)

Alford Elementary School, Shanaye Taylor Williams, Gifted Education Teacher (Grades 2-5)

Anderson-Livsey Elementary School, Delta P. Peters, 1st Grade Teacher

Annistown Elementary School, LaToya Burse, STEM/STEAM Teacher (Grades K-5)

Arcado Elementary School, Amanda Bidessy, Special Education Teacher - Autism (Kindergarten)

Archer High School, Brian Newman, Physics Teacher (11th Grade)

Baggett Elementary School, Myesha D. Jenkins, Instructional Support Teacher (2nd Grade)

Baldwin Elementary School, Alyson Mabika, Music Teacher (Grades K-5)

Bay Creek Middle School, Tristan Dooley, Social Studies Teacher (8th Grade)

Beaver Ridge Elementary School, Saima Rahman, 4th Grade Teacher

Benefield Elementary School, Taylor L. Jemison, 5th Grade Teacher

Berkeley Lake Elementary School, Michelle Bell, Language Arts Teacher (3rd Grade)

Berkmar High School, Patrick B. Mahaffey, Industry Fundamentals and Occupational Safety, Introduction to Construction, Carpentry I, Electrical I, Masonry I, and Plumbing I Teacher (Grades 9-12)

Berkmar Middle School, Lynn Barochin, ESOL Teacher (Grades 7-8)

Bethesda Elementary School, Marie Humphrey, Reading Recovery/ESOL Teacher (Grades K-5)

Britt Elementary School, Marsha Kennerly, 5th Grade Teacher

Brookwood Elementary School, Debbie Leonard, 4th Grade Teacher

Brookwood High School, Lauren Ollinger, Language Arts Teacher--Gifted and College Prep (10th grade)

Buice Center, Tiffany Russell, Health and PE Teacher (Grades 6-12)

Burnette Elementary School, Jada Steele Bell, Language Arts and Social Studies Teacher (5th Grade)

Camp Creek Elementary School, Lee Olson, 5th Grade Teacher

Cedar Hill Elementary School, Katharine Wood, Kindergarten Teacher

Centerville Elementary School, Stephanie Lindsey, EIP-Math and Language Arts Teacher (Grades K-5)

Central Gwinnett High School, Clara Maxcy, Special Education Teacher--Interrelated Resource-Algebra I, Math of Finance (Grades 9-12)

Chattahoochee Elementary School, Becky Alexander, Music Teacher (Grades K-5)

Chesney Elementary School, Tawonna L. Keeton, 3rd Grade Teacher

Coleman Middle School, Kelli Sinclair, Life Science Teacher (7th Grade)

Collins Hill High School, Sarah Kuekes, College Prep and Honors Economics, and College Prep U.S. History Teacher (Grades 11-12)

Cooper Elementary School, Mandy McGee, Special Education Teacher--Emotional and Behavioral Disorders (Grades K-3)

Corley Elementary School, Keisha Blythers, 2nd Grade Teacher--Reading, Writing, Mathematics, Science, Social Studies, and SEL

Couch Middle School, Joseph Sanders, Mathematics Teacher (6th Grade)

Craig Elementary School, Amberly Johnson, 1st Grade Teacher

Creekland Middle School, Kynisha Okonkwo, High School Physical Science (8th Grade)

Crews Middle School, Serina Gay, Sustainable Living Teacher (Grades 6-8)

Dacula Elementary School, April Adams, 5th Grade Teacher

Dacula High School, Michael Peterson, AP Human Geography and AP Psychology Teacher (Grades 9-12)

Dacula Middle School, Su Chong, String Orchestra Teacher (Grades 6-8)

Discovery High School, Hannah White, Introduction to Graphic Design, Advanced Graphic Design, and AP Art and Design Teacher (Grades 9-12)

Duluth High School, Melissa Margulis, World Geography and AP World Geography Teacher (9th Grade)

Duluth Middle School, Tara Raymond, Science Teacher (7th Grade)

Duncan Creek Elementary School, Becca Menchaca, Mathematics, Science, and Social Studies Teacher (5th Grade)

Dyer Elementary School, Morlyne Doricent, Special Education Teacher--Emotional and Behavioral Disorders (Grades K-2)

Ferguson Elementary School, Alicia Matthews Lowe, 4th Grade Teacher--Reading, Writing, Mathematics, Science, Social Studies

Five Forks Middle School, Lexi Carretto, Special Education Teacher--Autism (Grades 6-7)

Fort Daniel Elementary School, Kristan Chase, 1st Grade Teacher

Freeman's Mill Elementary School, Kimberly N. Malloch, Language Arts Teacher (4th Grade)

GIVE Center East, Emmanuel J. Williams III, Biology Teacher (Grades 9-12)

GIVE Center West, Rebecca Johnson, Geometry Teacher (Grades 9-12)

Grace Snell Middle School, Dr. Kimberly West, Science Teacher (6th Grade)

Graves Elementary School, Jennifer A. Adjei, Language Arts and Social Studies Teacher (5th Grade)

Grayson Elementary School, Matthew Schoen, Special Education Teacher--Specific Learning Disabilities (5th Grade)

Grayson High School, Teandra Storey, Economics and AP Macroeconomics Teacher (12th Grade)

Gwin Oaks Elementary School, Christina Michael, 2nd Grade Teacher

Gwinnett Online Campus, Ann Beindorf, Social Studies Teacher (8th Grade)

Gwinnett School of Mathematics, Science, and Technology, Carlos Burse, German Teacher (Grades 9-12)

Harbins Elementary School, Sharon Mauney, 1st Grade Teacher--Reading Intervention, Mathematics, Writing and Word Work/Phonics, and SEL

Harmony Elementary School, Sarah Newport, 1st Grade Teacher--Literacy, Phonics, Mathematics, Science, and Social Studies

Harris Elementary School, Erin Patricia Johnson, Special Education--Autism (Grades K-1)

Head Elementary School, Jessica Gaskin, 2nd Grade Teacher

Hopkins Elementary School, Shan Hicks, Computer Technology Teacher (Grades K-5)

Hull Middle School, Chinedu Okafor, Social Studies Teacher (8th Grade)

International Transition Center, Bernardette Smith, Sheltered Algebra and Academic Language of Mathematics Teacher (Grades 9-11)

Ivy Creek Elementary School, Jamie Cittadino, 3rd Grade Teacher--Mathematics, Science, and Social Studies

Jackson Elementary School, Alison Cormier, 3rd Grade Teacher

Jenkins Elementary School, Rahnon Danielle Murray, Special Education Teacher--Autism (Grades 4-5)

Jones Middle School, Ye Na Parrett, Mathematics and Gifted Mathematics Teacher (7th Grade)

Jordan Middle School, Aisha Randolph, Mathematics Teacher (7th Grade)

Kanoheda Elementary School, Natalie Kathryn Wiedenmann, Gifted Education Teacher--Gifted-Enrichment Reading and Thinking Skills (Grades K-5)

Knight Elementary School, David Washell, Special Education Teacher--Autism (Grades 4-5)

Lanier High School, Anne Byrand, AP World History and AP Human Geography Teacher (Grades 9-12)

Lanier Middle School, Carla Whitehead Youmans, English Language Arts in state-certified STEM Program--TWIST Teacher (8th Grade)

Lawrenceville Elementary School, Lindsay K. Thomas, Special Education Teacher--Interrelated Resource (Grades K-2)

Level Creek Elementary School, Jennifer L. James, Language Arts Teacher (5th Grade)

Lilburn Elementary School, Natalie Lett, Kindergarten Teacher

Lilburn Middle School, Cheryl Thomas, Science Teacher (8th Grade)

Lovin Elementary School, Tanya Perry, Special Education Teacher--Significant Developmental Delays (Grades K-1)

Magill Elementary School, Bailey Guthrie, Special Education--Moderate Intellectual Disorders (Grades K-2)

Mason Elementary School, Lindsay Atkins, Special Education Teacher--Autism (Grades K-1)

Maxwell HS of Technology, Mike Wojtkowski, Healthcare Science Teacher (Grades 10-12)

McClure Health Science HS, Kinsey Rubio, Multicultural Literacy and AP Literature Teacher (12th Grade)

McConnell Middle School, Annie Klentz, LIfe Science Teacher (7th Grade)

McKendree Elementary School, Amber Higginbotham, Instructional Coach and EIP Teacher (Grades 3-5)

Meadowcreek Elementary School, Ashley Rozier, Special Education Teacher--Significant Developmental Delays (1st Grade)

Meadowcreek High School, Cynthia S. Garay, Language Arts Teacher (9th Grade)

Mill Creek High School, Andrew Holbrook, AP Macroeconomics, Economics, and Personal Finance Teacher (12th Grade)

Minor Elementary School, Kayla M. Smith, Special Education Teacher--Deaf/Hard of Hearing (English Language Arts/Reading and Writing, Mathematics, Science, and Social Studies (Grades 1-2)

Moore Middle School, Doreen Moseley Evans, Reading-Connections Teacher (Grades 6-8)

Mountain Park Elementary School, Jennifer Matthews, Special Education Teacher--Interrelated Resource (Grades 3-5)

Mountain View High School, Marlena Booker, Audio, Video, Technology and Film I, II, and III, and Broadcast Video Production Applications Teacher (Grades 9-12)

Mulberry Elementary School, Amanda T. Herrington, Special Education--Interrelated Resource (Grades 3 & 5)

Nesbit Elementary School, Kelsey Prentice, Media Specialist (Grades P-5)

Norcross Elementary School, Katie Wylie, Special Education Teacher--Interrelated Resource (2nd Grade)

Norcross High School, Erin Jackson, World History, AP World History, and AP Government Teacher (Grades 9-10)

North Gwinnett High School, David Metrio, Orchestra Teacher (Grades 9-12)

North Gwinnett Middle School, Heather Lacefield Wheeler, Science Teacher (7th Grade)

North Metro Academy of Performing Arts, Katrina Martin, 3rd Grade Teacher

Northbrook Middle School, Becca Rackley, Social Studies Teacher (6th Grade)

Norton Elementary School, Mary Head, Special Education Teacher--Significant Developmental Delays (Kindergarten)

Oakland Meadow School, Wendy L. James, Orientation and Mobility Teacher, (All Grades)

Osborne Middle School, Dr. David Pauli, Engineering Teacher (Grades 6-8)

Parkview High School, Tracey Dann, Language Arts Teacher (9th Grade)

Parsons Elementary School, Cynthia Lewis, ESOL Teacher (Grades K-5)

Partee Elementary School, Dr. Nicole Turner, Mathematics Teacher (3rd Grade)

Patrick Elementary School, Kelly Wilkinson, Special Education Teacher--Interrelated Resource (Grades 2-3)

Paul Duke STEM High School, Ashley Wright, Graphic Design and Production, Advanced Graphic Design, and Print Shop Internship Teacher (Grades 9-12)

Peachtree Elementary School, Alyssa M. Tarr, Music Teacher (Grades K-5)

Peachtree Ridge High School, Irene Donahue, Algebra I Teacher (Grades 9-10)

Pharr Elementary School, Wayne Hall, Special Education Teacher--Autism (Grades 3-5)

Phoenix Middle School, Kristen Wisenall, U.S. History, Government, Economics, and World History Teacher (Grades 9-12)

Pinckneyville Middle School, Jessie Nordhielm, High School Physical Science Teacher (8th Grade)

Puckett's Mill Elementary School, Monica Fladger, 2nd Grade Teacher

Radloff Middle School, Sergeant Ebony Williams, Junior Leadership Corps (JLC) Instructor (Grades 6-8)

Richards Middle School, Grisel Felix-McDuffie, Media Specialist and Journalism-Connections Teacher (Grades 6-8)

Riverside Elementary School, Emily Brubaker, Language Arts and Science Teacher (5th Grade)

Roberts Elementary School, Denisse Cabrera, 1st Grade Teacher

Rock Springs Elementary School, Jennifer C. Williams, Special Education Teacher--Early Childhood Program)

Rockbridge Elementary School, Bernard Agurs, 2nd Grade Teacher

Rosebud Elementary School, LeDonna A. Jordan, Special Education Teacher--Interrelated Resource (Grades K-5)

Seckinger High School, Jason Hurd, Artificial Intelligence and Computer Science Teacher (Grades 9-12)

Shiloh Elementary School, Lillian Cheimis, Special Education Teacher--Significant Intellectual Disabilities (Early Childhood Program)

Shiloh High School, Sheila R. Jones, Language Arts Teacher (10th Grade)

Shiloh Middle School, Brandon McKinney, Computer Science Teacher (Grades 6-8)

Simonton Elementary School, Shannon M. Foster, Special Education Teacher--Autism (Early Childhood Program)

Simpson Elementary School, Susan Aronstein, 2nd Grade Teacher

Snellville Middle School, Briana Warren Stegall, Special Education Teacher--Interrelated Resource (6th Grade)

South Gwinnett High School, Carla Jordan, Language Arts Teacher (9th Grade)

Starling Elementary School, Michele Jones, Special Education Teacher--Interrelated Resource (5th Grade)

Stripling Elementary School, Autumn Kopesky, 2nd Grade Teacher

Sugar Hill Elementary School, Rosemarie Slodysko, 4th Grade Teacher--Mathematics, Science, Reading, and Writing

Summerour Middle School, Roshani Shah, Accelerated Algebra I and Algebra I Teacher (8th Grade)

Suwanee Elementary School, Kari Lemoine, Visual Arts Teacher (Grades K-5)

Sweetwater Middle School, Mariah Colón, Social Studies Teacher (8th Grade)

Sycamore Elementary School, Leslie Adames, Media Specialist (Grades K-5)

Taylor Elementary School, Casey Culpepper, Special Education Teacher--Autism Spectrum Disorder (Grades K-2)

Trickum Middle School, Nicole Marte, Science Teacher (6th Grade)

Trip Elementary School, Alexis Norville, Dual Language Immersion Teacher--French-Reading, Writing, and Social Studies (Kindergarten)

Twin Rivers Middle School, Angie Tarantino, Health and PE Teacher (Grades 6-8)

Walnut Grove Elementary School, Amy Otto, 2nd Grade Teacher--Reading, Writing, Mathematics, Science, Social Studies, and Health

White Oak Elementary School, Genny Lang, Intervention Teacher (Grades K-5)

Winn Holt Elementary School, Natalie Stout, Special Education Teacher--Mild Intellectual Disabilities (Grades 2-5)

Woodward Mill Elementary School, Nicole Brown, Language Arts Teacher (5th grade)