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Local educators honored as schools select Teachers of the Year

September 18, 2023

     The first step of the district’s search for its 2025 Gwinnett County Public Schools (GCPS) Teacher of the Year (TOTY) is complete and 141 local school Teachers of the Year have been designated as final selections in their schools.

     “To be named a local school Teacher of the Year is a huge honor,” says Dr. Nikki Mouton, GCPS Deputy Superintendent of Academic Services. “GCPS is filled with outstanding teachers, so to be honored by your peers as one of the best of the best is truly special and speaks volumes about the value they bring to students and the school community. These leaders model day in and day out what it means to be an excellent, effective, and empathic teacher who addresses the needs of each and every student. It is a pleasure to celebrate these professionals who are contributing so much not only to our schools, but to our community and society as they prepare students for tomorrow.”

     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 December 7, at 6:30 p.m., GCPS will host a 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:  All 141 school-level Teachers of the Year applications 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’ 2023-24 Teacher of the Year. 


GCPS’ 2023-24 Local School Teachers of the Year (TOTYs)

Alcova Elementary School, Dawn Turner, Math, Science, and Social Studies Teacher (Grade 4)

Alford Elementary School, Natasha Brantley, Special Education and Interrelated Resource--Language Arts and Math Teacher (Grade 5)

Anderson-Livsey Elementary School, Janee Gooden, 3rd Grade Teacher

Annistown Elementary School, Jasmine Rhodes, Dual Language Immersion--Reading, Writing, and Social Studies Teacher (Grade 2)

Arcado Elementary School, Allison Cutter, Gifted and AC Mathematics Teacher (Grades 1-5)

Archer High School, Sherri Aglietti, Engineering Concepts, Engineering Applications, Honors and Gifted Physics, and Scientific Research IV Teacher (Grades 10-12)

Baggett Elementary School, Emily Rogers, Gifted Education Teacher (Grades 1-5)

Baldwin Elementary School, Natasha Lackey, 1st Grade Teacher

Bay Creek Middle School, Ryan Cooper, Health and Physical Education Teacher (Grades 6-8)

Beaver Ridge Elementary School, Rasanna Rouse, 1st Grade Teacher

Benefield Elementary School, Dina-Marie Tosto, Language Arts, Mathematics, Social Studies, and Social Emotional Learning Teacher (Grade 5)

Berkeley Lake Elementary School, Lindsey Molenaar, Kindergarten Teacher

Berkmar High School, Erin Claridy, Honors/Gifted Freshman Literature and Composition, AP Literature and Composition, AP Capstone:Seminar Teacher (Grades 9-12)

Berkmar Middle School, Dr. Courtney R. Brown, Language Arts Teacher (Grade 6)

Bethesda Elementary School, Megan Despot, English to Speakers of Other Languages and Literacy Lessons Teacher (Grades K-5)

Britt Elementary School, Brigit M. DeRosa, 4th Grade Teacher

Brookwood Elementary School, Staci Sterling, Special Education--Writing, Reading, and Math Teacher (Grades K, 3, and 4)

Brookwood High School, Megan Gayle, Advanced Algebra: Concepts & Connections and Algebra: Concepts & Connections Intervention Teacher (Grades 9-11)

Buice Center, Stacie Gadlage, Media Specialist and Language Arts, Social Studies, Science, Mathematics, SEL, and Functional Life Skills Teacher (Grades 6-12+)

Burnette Elementary School, Mandy Gunter, Music Teacher (Grades Pre-K-5)

Camp Creek Elementary School, Susan Coffee, Social Studies and Specials Teacher (Grades K-5)

Cedar Hill Elementary School, Kassandra Hill, Special Education -- Autism Level II Teacher (Grades K-1)

Centerville Elementary School, Jordan Johnson, 2nd Grade Teacher

Central Gwinnett High School, Jenna Cloninger, Oceanography Teacher (Grades 10-12)

Chattahoochee Elementary School, Sheng Xiong, English to Speakers of Other Languages Teacher (Grades K-5)

Chesney Elementary School, Jo-Ann Mercado, 2nd Grade Teacher

Coleman Middle School, Shelley Winkler, Media Specialist and English to Speakers of Other Languages / Social Studies / Research Teacher (Grades 6-8)

Collins Hill High School, Rori Lynn Smith, Algebra Teacher (Grade 9)

Cooper Elementary School, Betsy Santos (Special Education Interrelated Resource--Mathematics, Language Arts, Science, Social Studies Teacher  (Grade 5)

Corley Elementary School, Dominique Stateman, Language Arts Teacher (Grade 5)

Couch Middle School, Dustin C. Root, High School Physical Science Teacher (Grade 8)

Craig Elementary School, Hajira Khan, Special Education Interrelated Resource Teacher (Grade 2)

Creekland Middle School, Andrea Lovett, Mathematics Teacher (Grade 7)

Crews Middle School, Charlie Hollingshead, Language Arts Teacher (Grade 8)

Dacula Elementary School, Kellie Clayton, 3rd Grade Teacher

Dacula High School, Courtney Guess, AP World History - Modern Teacher (Grade 10)

Dacula Middle School, Alicia Knighton, Special Education Interrelated Resource--Mathematics and Science Teacher (Grade 8)

Discovery High School, Sherri Stephenson, Introduction to Business and Technology, Business Communications, and Work-Based Learning Teacher (Grades 9-12)

Duluth High School, Kelly Lamelas Pence, AP World History Teacher (Grade 10)

Duluth Middle School, Tia Neal, Special Education--Affective Skills Teacher (Grades 6-8)

Duncan Creek Elementary School, Ty Petoskey, 1st Grade Teacher

Dyer Elementary School, Linda Bailey, Language Arts Teacher (Grade 5)

Ferguson Elementary School, Dr. Tabatha Jones, 2nd Grade Teacher

Five Forks Middle School, Michael Payen, Music Technology Teacher (Grades 6-8)

Fort Daniel Elementary School, Chandler Watson, Mathematics, Science, and Social Studies Teacher (Grade 4)

Freeman's Mill Elementary School, Holli Peck, Mathematics, Science, and Social Studies Teacher (Grade 3)

GIVE Center East, Dr. Pauline Bullard, Language Arts Teacher (Grades 6-7)

GIVE Center West, Shlawnda Calhoun, Freshman Literature and American Literature Teacher (Grades 9 and 11)

Grace Snell Middle School, Stacy Madison, Social Studies Teacher (Grade 6)

Graves Elementary School, Antonio L. Brewton, 3rd Grade Teacher

Grayson Elementary School, Melinda Gunter, 1st Grade Teacher

Grayson High School, Dr. Wendy Hardge Dyer, Information Technology & Game Design Teacher (Grades 10-12)

Gwin Oaks Elementary School, Jessie Hezlep, Mathematics, Social Studies, and Science Teacher (Grade 5)

Gwinnett Online Campus, Jenny Cooper, Social Studies Teacher (Grade 6)

Gwinnett School of Mathematics, Science, and Technology, J. Michael Rawlins, Differential Equations and AP Calculus AB Teacher (Grades 10-12)

Harbins Elementary School, Jenny Ethridge, Mathematics, Science, and Social Studies Teacher (Grade 4)

Harmony Elementary School, Lydia Lee, Music Teacher (Grades K-5)

Harris Elementary School, Cheryl Walters, 2nd Grade Teacher

Head Elementary School, Marti Lomax, Mathematics and Science Teacher (Grade 5)

Hopkins Elementary School, Ana Juarez, Mathematics Enrichment and Advanced Content Mathematics Teacher (Grades 1-4)

Hull Middle School, Danielle D. Penton, Reading and Social Studies Teacher (Grades 6-8)

International Transition Center, Megan Burns, English to Speakers of Other Languages Teacher (Grades 8-11)

Ivy Creek Elementary School, Shanon Lutz, Language Arts Teacher (Grade 2)

Jackson Elementary School, Nicole Hollum, Mathematics, Science, and Social Studies Teacher (Grade 5)

Jenkins Elementary School, Amba S. Gee, 4th Grade Teacher

Jones Middle School, Megan Handy, Social Studies Teacher (Grade 8)

Jordan Middle School, JaParis Key, Social Studies Teacher (Grade 7)

Kanoheda Elementary School, Mellisa Lewis Taylor, Language Arts and Mathematics Teacher (Grades K-5)

Knight Elementary School, Joanie E. Valenzuela, Instructional and Multilingual Support Teacher (Grades K-5)

Lanier High School, Larry J. Layfield II, Chemistry & Food Science Teacher (Grades 9-12)

Lanier Middle School, Jessica Ashley, Life Science Teacher (Grade 7)

Lawrenceville Elementary School, Yoselin Alvarez Leon, 3rd Grade Teacher

Level Creek Elementary School, Jessica Richter, 3rd Grade Teacher

Lilburn Elementary School, Caitlyn Taveras, 4th Grade and Gifted Education Teacher

Lilburn Middle School, Briana Wright, Language Arts Teacher (Grade 7)

Lovin Elementary School, Heather Kane, Computer Science Specials Teacher (Grades Pre-K-5)

Magill Elementary School, Jamye Royster, 3rd Grade Teacher

Mason Elementary School, Meaghan Drumm, 2nd Grade Teacher

Maxwell HS of Technology, Ervin A. Cruz, General Automotive Technology Teacher (Grades 10-12)

McClure Health Science HS, Casey Farrar, 9th Grade Medical Ethics & Law, 9th Grade Current Issues in Healthcare, and 10th Grade World History Teacher 

McConnell Middle School, Hyewon Cho, Mathematics Teacher (Grade 6)

McKendree Elementary School, Lejla Mehmedovic, 2nd Grade Teacher

Meadowcreek Elementary School, Hanna Tadesse, Reading Intervention Teacher and MTSS Coordinator (Grades K-5)

Meadowcreek High School, Linda Henis, Special Education--World Geography Teacher (Grade 9)

Mill Creek High School, Monica Carroll, Precalculus and Advanced Algebra Teacher (Grades 10-12)

Minor Elementary School, Thelma F. Dean, Mathematics, Science, and Social Studies Teacher (Grade 5)

Moore Middle School, Emily Thompson, Special Education--Functional Academics (Language Arts, Math, Science, Social Studies) & Community Skills, Autism Level 1 Teacher (Grades 6-8)

Mountain Park Elementary School, Traci Morgan, 1st Grade Teacher

Mountain View High School, David Novelly, AP Environmental Science and AP Biology Teacher (Grades 10-12)

Mulberry Elementary School, Donna Hargrave, 4th Grade Teacher

Nesbit Elementary School, Brianna Shay Colby, Kindergarten Teacher

Norcross Elementary School, Robert Fortenbery, Early Intervention Program, Play 2 Learn, and Early Intervention Program Teacher

Norcross High School, Christopher M. Miller, Intro to Graphic Design, Graphic Design and Production, Advanced Graphic Design, Yearbook/ Journalism Teacher (Grades 9-12)

North Gwinnett High School, Lindsay Davis, AP Seminar and Internship Teacher (Grades 10 and 12)

North Gwinnett Middle School, Scott Kim, Accelerated Geometry Teacher (Grade 8)

North Metro Academy of Performing Arts, Jake Jones, Health and PE Teacher (Grades K-5)

Northbrook Middle School, Sheryl Croy, Language Arts Teacher (Grade 7)

Norton Elementary School, Luz Augustin, 5th Grade Teacher

Oakland Meadow School, Clovia Jackson, Special Education--Art and Music Teacher (Grades PreK-12+)

Osborne Middle School, Treva Coates, STEM Connections Teacher (Grades 6-8)

Parkview High School, Jennifer Bridges, Special Education--Affective Skills, 10th Grade World Literature, 11th Grade American Literature, and 12th Grade British Literature, Autism Level IV Teacher (Grades 9-12)

Parsons Elementary School, Nga Down, Advanced Mathematics, Science, and Reading Teacher (Grades 4-5)

Partee Elementary School, Erin Wood, Computer Science Teacher (Grades K-5)

Patrick Elementary School, Caitlin Parker, 4th Grade Teacher

Paul Duke STEM High School, Halie Rios, English to Speakers of Other Languages and Language Arts Teacher (Grades 9-12)

Peachtree Elementary School, Charlotte Lowe, 1st Grade Teacher

Peachtree Ridge High School, Terrence Stover, U.S. History, Ethnic Studies, African American Studies, and Contemporary Issues Teacher (Grades 11-12)

Pharr Elementary School, Rebecca Clay Smith, Music Teacher (Grades K-5)

Phoenix High School, Jennifer Llorente, Chemistry Teacher (Grades 9-12)

Pinckneyville Middle School, Roland P. Ventura, Instrumental Music (Band) Teacher (Grades 6-8)

Puckett's Mill Elementary School, Vicki Eshelman, Special Education--Significant and Profound Intellectual Disabilities Teacher (Grades K-2)

Radloff Middle School, Kaileigh Nicole Logan, Special Education Autism Level II Teacher (Grades 6-8)

Richards Middle School, Emily Smith, Physical Science Teacher (Grade 8)

Riverside Elementary School, MyKenya Hester, Reading, Writing, and Social Studies Teacher (Grade 4)

Roberts Elementary School, Lisa Reynolds, 2nd Grade Teacher

Rock Springs Elementary School, Claire Tanner, Kindergarten Teacher

Rockbridge Elementary School, Veronica Fuller, 3rd Grade Teacher

Rosebud Elementary School, Sharia Martin, 1st Grade Teacher

Seckinger High School, Trey Brennan, AP World History Teacher (Grade 10)

Shiloh Elementary School, Amanda Reynolds, Physical Education Teacher (Grades K-5)

Shiloh High School, Trevon Lamar, AP African American Studies, AP U.S. History, and U.S. History Teacher (Grades 11-12)

Shiloh Middle School, Tamika Datcher Williams, Social Studies Teacher (Grade 6)

Simonton Elementary School, Lynn M. Wilson, 2nd Grade Teacher

Simpson Elementary School, Ashley Somers, Special Education Interrelated Resource--Language Arts and Mathematics Teacher (Grades 2-3)

Snellville Middle School, Myra Coria, English to Speakers of Other Languages Department Chair and English to Speakers of Other Languages Connections Teacher (Grades 6-8)

South Gwinnett High School, Kevin A. McKinney,, Advanced Algebra & Connections / Advanced Mathematical Decision Making Teacher (Grades 10-12)

Starling Elementary School, Sonya J. Lacy, Language Arts Teacher (Grade 3)

Stripling Elementary School, Amanda Rodriguez, Play to Learn, English to Speakers of Other Languages Teacher (Pre-K and Grades 2-3) 

Sugar Hill Elementary School, Michelle Ruhl, Computer Technology Teacher (Grades K-5)

Summerour Middle School, Tywanna Johnson, Special Education Interrelated Resource--Language Arts Teacher (Grade 6)

Suwanee Elementary School, Julie Gaines, 1st Grade Teacher

Sweetwater Middle School, Anastasia O. James, Spanish Advance Language and Literacy, Dual Language Immersion Culture and History, Dual Language Immersion Culture and Media, Spanish 1, and Spanish 3 Teacher (Grades 6-8)

Sycamore Elementary School, Paul Chong, Mathematics and Science Teacher (Grade 5)

Taylor Elementary School, Gregory Thompson, Music Teacher (Grades K-5)

Trickum Middle School, Dr. Quonias Hudson, Language Arts Teacher (Grade 6)

Trip Elementary School, Ashley Hashiguchi, French Dual Language Immersion Reading & Social Studies Teacher (Grade 2)

Twin Rivers Middle School, Jodi Meaders, Special Education Emotional Behavior Disorders--Mathematics, Language Arts, Science, and Social Studies Teacher (Grades 6-8)

Walnut Grove Elementary School, Carol Kinney, 1st Grade Teacher

White Oak Elementary School, Seth Kuehn, Music Teacher (Grades K-5)

Winn Holt Elementary School, Degoldyne Francois-Ulceus, Special Education Interrelated Resource Teacher (Grade 5)

Woodward Mill Elementary School, Amy Deal, Music Teacher (Grades K-5)