Local educators honored as schools select Teachers of the Year

The first step of the district’s search for its 2015-16 Gwinnett County Public Schools (GCPS) Teacher of the Year (TOTY) is complete and 134 local school Teachers of the Year have been designated as tops in their schools. 

“Fall is without a doubt one of our favorite times of the year,” says Dr. Nikki Mouton, executive director of Curriculum and Instruction. “It marks the beginning of the school year and the time when we recognize the best teachers in the business… our local teachers of the year. These teachers model day in and day out what it means to be an effective teacher as they give their time, energy, and commitment to their students. As a school district, we are honored that they are OUR teachers and that we can recognize their dedication to students, to the profession, and to public education.”

Every year,the school system honors the passion and commitment of its teachers during the annual Teacher of the Year recognition process that takes place each fall. These 134 local school honorees will move into the next phase of the TOTY process as they are considered for the systemwide honor. Later this month, this group will be narrowed down to 25 semifinalists. From that group, six finalists will be chosen in mid-October. The annual Teacher of the Year banquet and the announcement of this year’s top teacher in Gwinnett County will be held on Tuesday, November 10, 2015. 

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 134 school-level Teachers of the Year are screened and 25 semifinalists for the county-level 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— visits the classrooms of the six finalists and conducts thorough interviews with each educator. The committee looks for original teaching methods, studies the educator’s teaching philosophy, considers the influence the teacher has had on the teaching practices of his/her colleagues, and reviews 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’ 2015-16 Teacher of the Year.  

2015-16 Local Teachers of the Year

Alcova ES, Stacey Willis, Kindergarten Teacher

Alford ES, Brooke Reynolds, Special Education Teacher - Interrelated Resource (Grade 4)

Anderson-Livsey ES, Amy Jenny, Kindergarten Teacher

Annistown ES, Teresa Meehan, Dual Language Immersion Teacher - Mathematics, Science, and Spanish (Kindergarten)

Arcado ES, Andrea Herman, 5th Grade Teacher

Archer HS, Kristen Carter, AP Physics Teacher (Grades 11 and 12)

Baggett ES, Joe Frank Uriz, Spanish Teacher (Grades Pre-K-5)

Bay Creek MS, Whitney Duncan, Orchestra Teacher (Grades 6-8)

Beaver Ridge ES, Laura Stanfield, Special Education Teacher (Pre-K)

Benefield ES, Christina C. Merriman, Reading Recovery Teacher (Grade 1)

Berkeley Lake ES, Mardrey Worthy, Special Education Teacher - Language Arts and Mathematics (Grade 5)

Berkmar HS, Charles Thornton, Science and AP Biology Teacher (Grades 9-12)

Berkmar MS, Shawna Desrosiers, Science Teacher (Grades 6-8)

Bethesda ES, Heather Thorpe, 5th Grade Teacher

Britt ES, Nyana Genama, 1st Grade Teacher

Brookwood ES, Jeane Sammons, 4th Grade Teacher

Brookwood HS, Dana Kling, AP Literature Teacher and Audio, Video, Technology, and Film Teacher (Grades 9-12)

Burnette ES, Heather Tone, 4th Grade Teacher

Camp Creek ES, Shawn Mazzatta, Visual Arts Teacher (Grades K-5)

Cedar Hill ES, Tiona Harris, 3rd Grade Teacher

Centerville ES, Marlene D. Reilly, 2nd Grade Teacher

Central Gwinnett HS, Stephanie Howell, English to Speakers of Other Languages Teacher (Grades 9-12)

Chattahoochee ES, Cheryl Meuleners, Special Education Teacher - Speech (Grades K-5)

Chesney ES, Abby Bonds, 1st Grade Teacher

Collins Hill HS, Jennifer Lane, German Teacher (Grades 9-12)

Cooper ES, Kimberly J. Smith, 5th Grade Teacher

Corley ES, Mary Eich, Special Education Teacher (Grades K and 1)

Couch MS, Amy B. Brown, Language Arts Teacher (Grade 6)

Craig ES, Catherine Noble, 1st Grade Teacher

Creekland MS, Stephanie Roland, English to Speakers of Other Languages Teacher (Grades 6-8)

Crews MS, Megan Mendez, Social Studies Teacher (Grade 8)

Dacula ES, Garth Scott, Accelerated Mathematics and Gifted Education Teacher (Grades 3-5)

Dacula HS, Travis A. Young, AP U.S. History Teacher (Grades 11 and 12)

Dacula MS, Jennifer Sevier, Science Teacher (Grade 7)

Discovery HS, Lindsey Brouillard, Literature and Composition Teacher (Grade 10) 

Duluth HS, Brooke Wright, Literature and Composition Teacher (Grade 10)

Duluth MS, Kim Booth, Mathematics Teacher (Grade 6)

Duncan Creek ES, Dayna Alkire, Physical Education Teacher (Grades K-5)

Dyer ES, Dee Dee Thomas, Kindergarten Teacher

Ferguson ES, Chaney Moon, 5th Grade Teacher

Five Forks MS, Jacob Bennett, Science Teacher (Grade 7)

Fort Daniel ES, Cindy Glenn Kubal, Reading Recovery, Early Intervention Program, and English to Speakers of Other Languages Teacher (Grades K-5) 

Freeman's Mill ES, Melanie Walsh, 1st Grade Teacher

GIVE Center East, Megan Ryall, Language Arts Teacher (Grades 9-12)

GIVE Center West, Voronda Tillman, Mathematics Teacher (Grade 8)

Grace Snell MS, Phyllis Washington, Mathematics Teacher (Grade 7)

Graves ES, Jon Paul Coutourier, 5th Grade Teacher

Grayson ES, Caryn Lott, 5th Grade Teacher

Grayson HS, Sandy Stephens, Language Arts Teacher (Grades 10 -12)

Gwin Oaks ES, Jacquelyn Roberts, 5th Grade Teacher

Gwinnett Online Campus, Erin Springthorpe, Science Teacher (Grade 9)

Gwinnett School of Mathematics, Science, and Technology, Steve Kuninsky, Science Teacher (Grade 10)

Harbins ES, Trisha Connor, STEM Teacher (Grades K-5)

Harmony ES, Christy Tidwell, 4th Grade Teacher

Harris ES, Emily Elizabeth Broich, Literacy Teacher (Grades K-5)

Head ES, Kelly Mraz, Music Teacher (Grades K-5)

Hopkins ES, Song Yang, English to Speakers of Other Languages Teacher (Grades K-5)

Hull MS, Dana Holmes, Language Arts Teacher (Grade 8)

Ivy Creek ES, Loni Jones, 1st Grade Teacher

Jackson ES, Stephanie Wolfsohn, Special Education Teacher - Mathematics and Writing (Grades 4 and 5)

Jenkins ES, Stephanie K. Smith, 5th Grade Teacher

Jones MS, Betsy Priest, Social Studies Teacher (Grade 8)

Jordan MS, Nicole R. Finley, Mathematics Teacher (Grade 8)

Kanoheda ES, Jennie Gungiah, Gifted Education Teacher (Grades K-5)

Knight ES, Rachel Storey, 5th Grade Teacher

Lanier HS, Brooke Taggart Webb, Language Arts Teacher (Grade 10)

Lanier MS, Catherine Warnock, Special Education Teacher - Autism (Grades 6-8)

Lawrenceville ES, Trent Alexander, 5th Grade Teacher

Level Creek ES, Kristina Schroeder, 1st Grade Teacher

Lilburn ES, Vincent Vilello, Gifted Education and Accelerated Mathematics Teacher (Grades 4 and 5)

Lilburn MS, Lois Sanders, Language Arts Teacher (Grade 8)

Lovin ES, Helen Diaz, 2nd Grade Teacher

Magill ES, Rebecca Hollis, 4th Grade Teacher

Mason ES, Katie Nunn, Special Education Teacher (Grades 1 and 2)

Maxwell HS of Technology, Cathy M. Smith, Cosmetology Teacher (Grades 11 and 12)

McConnell MS, Cindy Rothgeb, Language Arts Teacher (Grade 6)

McKendree ES, Betty-Sue Garrish, Special Education Teacher - Emotional Behavior Disorders (Grades K-2)

Meadowcreek ES, Suzanne Vogt, Early Intervention Program Teacher (Grades K and 2)

Meadowcreek HS, Jami Poplar, Spanish Teacher (Grades 9-12)

Mill Creek HS, Greg Jarvis, Social Studies Teacher (Grades 9-12)

Minor ES, Laurie Baechtel Pitcock, Special Education and Early Intervention Program Teacher (Grades K-5)

Moore MS, Furga James, Social Studies Teacher (Grade 8)

Mountain Park ES, Debra Coffey, Early Intervention Program Teacher (Grades K-5)

Mountain View HS, Lisa Carnes, AP Biology and Chemistry Teacher (Grades 9-12)

Mulberry ES, Athena Roberts, 3rd Grade Teacher

Nesbit ES, Johanne Pyronneau, 5th Grade Teacher

Norcross ES, Tommy Firesheets, Advanced Content Reading and Mathematics Teacher and Gifted Education Teacher (Grades 1-5)

Norcross HS, Alix McHardy, AP Chemistry and Biology Teacher (Grades 9-11)

North Gwinnett HS, Donna Kurdelmeier, Culinary Arts Teacher (Grades 9-12)

North Gwinnett MS, John Rhilinger, Latin Teacher (Grades 6-8)

Northbrook Center - ADAPT, Lauren Marks, Special Education Teacher - ADAPT

Northbrook MS, Karen A. Jackson, Science Teacher (Grade 7)

Norton ES, Jessica Dunn, 1st Grade Teacher

Oakland Meadow School, Angela Patrick, Homebound Teacher (Grades 9-12)

Osborne MS, Jan Pruitt, Mathematics Teacher (Grade 8)

Parkview HS, Jason Atha, Band Teacher (Grade 9-12)

Parsons ES, Jennifer Grace, 3rd Grade Teacher

Partee ES, Shaketa Gillard, Instructional Coach - Mathematics (Grades K-5)

Patrick ES, Tabatha Johnson, 3rd Grade Teacher

Peachtree ES, Ayun Kwon, 2nd Grade Teacher

Peachtree Ridge HS, Ashley Stratemeyer, Special Education Teacher - Autism (Grades 9-12)

Pharr ES, Monica Jones, Kindergarten Teacher

Phoenix HS, Emily T. Heend, Mathematics Teacher (Grades 9-12)

Pinckneyville MS, Stacy Bernard James, Language Arts Teacher (Grade 6)

Puckett's Mill ES, Deborah Talley Clinkscales, 5th Grade Teacher

Radloff MS, Nathan Martin, Health and Physical Education Teacher (Grades 6-8)

Richards MS, Felisha Strong, Reading Connections Teacher (Grades 6-8)

Riverside ES, Bradley Robertson, 3rd Grade Teacher

Roberts ES, Shirley Burt, 3rd Grade Teacher

Rock Springs ES, Allison Camp Huckle, 4th Grade Teacher

Rockbridge ES, Carolyn Welsh, 4th Grade Teacher

Rosebud ES, Kimya Motley, Early Intervention Program Teacher (Grades 3-5)

Shiloh ES, Nicole DelBosque, 5th Grade Teacher

Shiloh HS, Traci Lynn Head, Algebra II Teacher (Grades 11 and 12)

Shiloh MS, Michelle Sampson, Gifted Education Teacher - Mathematics (Grade 6)

Simonton ES, Elisabeth Montgomery, 2nd Grade Teacher

Simpson ES, Patti Walker, Special Education Teacher - Autism (Grades K and 1)

Snellville MS, Melissa K. Rogers, Language Arts and Social Studies Teacher (Grade 8) 

South Gwinnett HS, Allison Falch, AP U.S. History Teacher and Audio, Video, Technology, and Film Teacher (Grades 9-12)

Starling ES, Amanda Bryce, 5th Grade Teacher

Stripling ES, Heather Lewis, Special Education Teacher - Severe and Profound Intellectual Disabilities (Grades 3-5)

Sugar Hill ES, Kelsey Case, Special Education Teacher - Autism (Grades 3-5) 

Summerour MS, Angela Higgs, Social Studies Teacher (Grade 6)

Suwanee ES, Lisa Westpheling, 4th Grade Teacher

Sweetwater MS, Melissa Ellenburg, Mathematics Teacher (Grade 7)

Sycamore ES, Jill Wallace, Special Education Teacher - Emotional Behavior Disorders (Grades K-2)

Taylor ES, Stacie McTeer, Music Teacher (Grades K-5)

Trickum MS, Brian Lucy, STEM Connections Teacher (Grades 6-8)

Trip ES, Shannon Hayes, Dual Language Immersion Teacher - Mathematics, Science, and French (Kindergarten)

Twin Rivers MS, Elizabeth (Lissie) Roche, Mathematics Teacher (Grade 9)

Walnut Grove ES, Dr. Myra Lynn McCurry, Music Teacher (Grades K-5)

White Oak ES, Janelle Johnson Draper, 4th Grade Teacher

Winn Holt ES, Nancy Read, Kindergarten Teacher

Woodward Mill ES, Simona Sabau, 5th Grade Teacher