Teachers of the Year named for 2013-2014 school year
The Fulton County School System proudly announces that Jennie Scott from Oak Knoll Elementary School is the district’s Overall Teacher of the Year for 2013-2014. She was delivered the news May 7 by Superintendent Robert Avossa and other system leaders during a surprise announcement in her classroom.
Presenting her a bouquet of flowers, Superintendent Avossa shared the district’s congratulations. “You do an amazing job every day and we are just so proud of you,” he said. Scott also received a special Teacher of the Year banner to display in her classroom and will be the keynote speaker at the school system’s Legacy of Excellence banquet in the fall.
Each spring, Fulton County schools are invited to nominate outstanding educators based on teacher, staff and parent input. These professionals are then evaluated a second time through a classroom visit and interview, and one finalist is announced from each of Fulton’s geographic Learning Communities – Northeast, Northwest, Central and South. From these four educators, one is chosen as the Fulton County Overall Teacher of the Year.
Scott was first named the Central Learning Community’s Teacher of the Year and was then selected as the district winner from among three other Fulton County finalists: Michelle Aga from River Eves Elementary School, Northeast Learning Community; Michelle Wexler from Mimosa Elementary School, Northwest Learning Community; and Jennifer Page from Westlake High School, South Learning Community.
View each school's Teacher of the Year here.
These four teachers will serve as examples to their Fulton County colleagues for the next academic year. A formal recognition gala, the Legacy of Excellence, will be held next fall to celebrate their accomplishments as well as those of other employees of the year who were selected by their local school communities.
Jennie Scott – Fulton Teacher of the Year
and Central Learning Community Teacher of the Year
Jennie Scott, in her own words, believes that the act of learning can be “loud,” “messy” and “scary.”
“When students are in control of their learning and allowed to question and make meaning on their own terms, it can be downright scary. But I am committed to this loud, messy, scary meaning-making,” she wrote in her Teacher of the Year application essay. “I believe that students must see education as their ticket to a successful life, a ‘how-to’ guide to solving real problems in their lives rather than a series of rote, forced steps that must be endured until the age of 18.”
In her fourth-grade math, science and social studies classroom, Scott has a plan for her students. By the time they leave her class, she wants them not only to understand the content, but be able to apply it, evaluate it, and become lifelong learners and problem solvers.
“Filling our classrooms today are the leaders and problem solvers of tomorrow,” she said. “It is up to me to develop relevant, meaningful experiences in the classroom that mimic the problems that exist at the local, national and global level.”
This desire to help students see the relevance between the curriculum and the real world is one reason Scott was named Fulton County Schools’ first-ever “Face of Fulton,” a recognition program that spotlights the school system’s most dynamic employees. Scott’s dedication to her students and to Oak Knoll Elementary also is the reason principal Angela Parham calls Scott’s presence in the school “uniquely enriching.”
“She is passionate about educating students so that they will succeed despite their ability, learning style, interest and preference in learning,” Parham says. “She puts forth an effort to contribute to the success of our total school and has served the children and community of our local school exceptionally well.”
Michelle Aga – Northeast Learning Community Teacher of the Year
A fifth-grade math teacher at River Eves Elementary School, Michelle Aga believes that education gives a person “choices.”
“I think that we live in the ‘Land of Opportunity,’ but this opportunity is only accessible through education,” she said. “Because I believe in the value of education, I invest my time and energy to turn kids on to learning. I look for ways to teach the standards to my specific groups of kids and ways to differentiate within those groups. I constantly challenge kids with rigor and allow them to experience successes along the way.”
Aga also believes in a technology-rich classroom to reach and teach her students. “I love technology and I incorporate it in my teaching,” she said. “I have an inspired classroom which allows each group to have a computer within easy access. I am currently working on recording my mini-lessons and making them accessible through my website. This will allow students that were absent or students that are confused to watch the mini-lesson as often as needed. I am not fully prepared to have a flipped classroom, but I am slowly moving in that direction.”
Michelle Wexler – Northwest Learning Community Teacher of the Year
“All students can learn” isn’t just an educational motto for Michelle Wexler, a second-grade teacher at Mimosa Elementary School. It’s her personal vision statement.
“I believe that every student is capable of learning no matter their age, gender, cognition level, or socioeconomic status,” Wexler said. She doesn’t accept excuses from her students, and instead guides them toward success. “Teachers should set high expectations and include a plethora of academic rigor built into their lessons to continually challenge the students. There is nothing more rewarding that watching students know they have achieved a short or long term goal.”
Wexler also believes that personal connections are what create a love for lifelong learning. “I am a teacher that loves working with the curriculum that I teach; however, I am more passionate about the students that I teach,” she said. “I want the students that I teach to strive to learn about the world around them in order to enable them to follow their dreams for the rest of their lives.”
Jennifer Page – South Learning Community Teacher of the Year
Jennifer Page, an English teacher from Westlake High School, quotes the educator Louis Schmier when she says, “Every day I have the joy of ‘dealing with the extraordinary, the exotic, the beautiful, the unique, the wonderful, the spectacular, the exciting’ – my students.”
Her sincere love for teaching, coupled with her belief that no one rises to low expectations, has led her to create an interactive classroom where students are challenged and engaged. She also uses field trips to the High Museum and local theatres to inspire students’ creativity and appreciation for the arts and has developed a curriculum on how to better teach poetry to young students through the use of music.
“I strive to create a learning environment that is conducive to rigor and relevance mixed with principle and practice,” she said. “I love being an educator, and I love giving back the gift of knowledge to others I meet.”