I love our schools – especially the classrooms – and the best part of my job is when I get to do my work in our schools with our beautiful students and brilliant teachers.
Every week, I have the pleasure of watching teachers as they work intensively with students to examine chapters of fascinating history, conduct science experiments, simplify complex mathematical concepts and immerse students in foreign languages. Then I meet them again after school as they supervise band rehearsals, direct theater productions and coach athletic practices.
I often call our teachers “superheroes” because they have the power to nurture original thinkers and create life-long learners. As educators, teachers can completely change the trajectory of a child’s life with knowledge. What they do is truly ‘heart’ work, as much as it is hard work and year after year, they return to our classrooms and pour into our students with compassion and energy.
Today was an especially wonderful day because I had the pleasure of surprising our best of the best – our elementary, middle and high school Teachers of the Year – during special announcements at three schools.
As finalists, they will compete for District-wide Teacher of the Year. The finalists will be recognized during the APyeS! Awards ceremony at 5 p.m., Wednesday, Oct. 26 at Rich Theatre, Woodruff Arts Center, located at 1280 Peachtree St NE, Atlanta 30309.
The 2016-2017 District-wide Teacher of the Year finalists are:
APS Elementary School Teacher of the Year – Jennifer Kraften of Toomer Elementary
Jennifer Kraften is a 15-year veteran gifted and talented teacher at Fred A. Toomer Elementary School. Kraften focuses on gifted education, and boosting programs for all high academic achievers in her school through grade-level collaboration, technology leadership, academic and service clubs, and engaging classroom activities.
APS Middle School Teacher of the Year – John Wingate of King Middle School
After 26 years in the field of transportation and distribution with C.R. Bard and UPS, John Wingate began his teaching career in May 2013 after joining Teach For America. At M.L. King Middle School, Wingate is a special education teacher and case manager who teaches students of high incidence disabilities in all content areas and grade levels in consultative, collaboration co-taught and resource room settings.
APS High School Teacher of the Year – Jerry Kosoff of KIPP Atlanta Collegiate
Jerry Kosoff, an algebra teacher and math department chair at K.I.P.P. Atlanta Collegiate, is in his fourth year of teaching at APS. Kosoff began his career at Carver School of Health Sciences and Research, where he taught Math IV and helped seniors prepare for the Georgia Graduation Test (GGT).
2016 Georgia Counselor of the Year – Alexandra Huguelet of Mary Lin Elementary
And if that wasn’t enough great news this week, Alexandra Huguelet, counselor at Mary Lin Elementary School, has been named 2016 Georgia School Counselor of the Year by the Georgia School Counselors Association.
Known for her positive attitude, love of children, and commitment to improving school climate and culture, Huguelet was nominated for the award by former colleagues. Her selection was based on essays, a video submission, and data from her previous elementary school showing a 47 percent decrease in student discipline referrals. Through her work as a school counselor, Huguelet serves as an advocate who strives to remove academic, social, and emotional barriers to student success. She will be honored during a special ceremony on Nov. 2 in Macon, Georgia.