Teacher of the Year says lucky to represent Newton’s educators ‘incredible’ honor

COVINGTON, Georgia. – DeAnna O’Brien of Eastside High School was named the 2022 Newton County School System Teacher of the Year on Thursday, September 30.

O’Brien was chosen from three finalists which also included Samantha Greco of West Newton Elementary School and Clayton Hammonds of Veterans Memorial Middle School.

O’Brien, a special education teacher at Eastside, praised the other grade school teachers of the year and said the chance to represent them was “amazing.”

“And the 23 of us sitting here is what we do every day,” said O’Brien.

“We are removing their disabilities and their abilities to appear so that when they enter your world and our community, they can do whatever they dream of possible,” she said.

She said she was pleased with the recognition she had been given for being an academic laureate, as it showed that her colleagues were “noticing” her students – most of whom are disabled in some way. other.

“What touched me the most when my colleagues voted for me to represent Eastside High School, and what it meant to me was that they took notice of my children,” she said.

“My students who have had disabilities their entire lives and who often go unnoticed – they’ve noticed my kids. Not only have they noticed them, but they’ve noticed how amazing they are,” said O’Brien.

She also said that her award was actually for “Team of the Year” because two paraprofessionals who assist her, Maria Hardeman and Sande Jackson, “walk beside me every day, every step of the way.” .

“I can’t do my job without them,” she said.

The Eastside teacher received a crystal award and a check for $ 1,000 from the Chamber of Commerce; and a check for $ 500 from Covington Ford.

She will now represent Newton County schools in the Georgia Teacher of the Year competition.

The two finalists each received Crystal Awards from the Newton County Chamber of Commerce.

The 23 teachers of the year were recognized and received commemorative plaques from Coca-Cola Bottling Co.

O’Brien previously taught in the Morgan County and Rockdale County school systems. She has also taught inpatients with traumatic brain injuries at the Scottish Rite Children’s Hospital.

She received her Bachelor of Science in Special Education from Georgia Southern University in 1995 and is currently working on her Masters of Education from the same institution.

A panel of five judges chose the winner after interviewing each of the 23 grade-level teachers for the year and reading the essays submitted by them.

Once the three finalists were selected, the Teacher of the Year selection committee watched each finalist teach in their class on September 21. The person with the highest combined score for the test, interview and observation was named the winner.

Greco, a fifth grade teacher at West Newton, began her career as a teacher at West Newton in 2007 and taught grades four and five at the school.

She received her Bachelor of Arts in Spanish from Defense Language Institute in 1998 and her Bachelor of Arts in Bible Education from Beaulah Heights University in 2007; and holds a gifted endorsement.

Hammonds, a sixth-grade science teacher at Veterans, joined the Newton County School System team in 2018 at the same school. He previously taught at Valdosta College for a year.

He received his Bachelor of Science in Mid-Level Education from Valdosta State University in 2017 and his Masters of Education from Walden University in 2019. He is on track to earn his Education Specialist in leadership of Thomas University teachers in 2023.

O’Brien is Newton County’s first teacher of the year chosen in two years after the 2021 award was not given due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The last chosen, 2020 Teacher of the Year Shannon Price of Flint Hill Elementary School, was a member of the committee that chose this year’s winning teacher.

Price told the school-level Teacher of the Year winners that each had been a “beacon” for their students during the “storm we didn’t see coming” – the pandemic.

“Thank you for being this beacon of light for your students,” she said.

Superintendent Samantha Fuhrey said teachers – many of whom taught their students virtually during the pandemic – had been “resilient” and “made it work for their students” for the past 18 months.

Recognized Grade Level Teachers of the Year on the stage included:

• East Newton Elementary School: Beth Rogers

• Fairview Elementary School: Kathy Nadeau

• Flint Hill Primary School: Blair Hamby

• Elementary Heard-Mixon: Nicole Roberts

• Primary Live Oak: Stéphanie Muhammad

• Livingston Elementary School: Kristin Carter

• Mansfield Elementary School: Gina McDonald

• Middle Ridge Elementary School: Ebony Bryant

• Newton County Theme School: Marquita Corbett

• Oak Hill Elementary School: Marissa Biglow

• Porterdale Primary School: Thecla James

• Elementary School of the Rocky Plains: Alaina Khan

• South Salem Primary School: Renee Anderson

• West Newton Primary School: Samantha Greco

• Clements Middle: Monica Jackson

• Middle cousins: Emily Lumpkin

• Indian Creek Middle: Charnese Phillips

• Environment of freedom: Teraye law

• Veterans Memorial Center: Clayton Hammonds

• Alcovy High: Miranda lamb

• Eastside High: DeAnna O’Brien

• Newton High School: Stephen Foster

• Newton College & Career Academy: Roberta Axson

Supporters of the Newton County Teacher of the Year program included the Newton County Chamber of Commerce Chamber of Commerce champions, sponsors of the 2022 Teacher of the Year program; and Covington News; Hospice de l’Abbaye; AT&T; BB&T; making beavers; Bridgestone Golf; BD; City of Covington; Covington Ford; Facebook; General mills; GPTC; Ginn Automobile Company; High priority plumbing; MAU; Newton County Government; Federal Bank of Newton; Newton County Water and Sewer; Nisshinbo Automobile; North Coast; Oxford College; Piedmont Newton; Pinnacle Bank; Qualified staff ; SKC, Inc .; Snapping Shoals EMC; SteelCo; Sunbelt Builders, Inc .; synovial; Takeda; Tread technologies (Michelin); United Bank of Covington; The center; Newton College & Career Academy; Edgar Law Firm; and Newton County Industrial Development Authority.

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