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Teachers of year cultivate young minds

POSTED: January 17, 2008 5:03 a.m.

Each year, teachers at every school in Gainesville and Hall County pick the best of their peers to be honored for dedication to education.

From that group, two teachers -- one each from the city and county school systems -- are selected to represent their peers at the state level.

The Gainesville city schools' teacher of the year for 2008 is Dawn Barry, a kindergarten teacher at Centennial Arts Academy and an Atlanta native.

She says she felt drawn to teaching from an early age.

"I always knew that teaching was where I was grounded. That's where I felt the best and it's where I feel like I'm doing a good job," she said.

The Hall County teacher of the year is Joel Aquino, a science teacher at West Hall High who is a native of Manila, Philippines.

He gave up years spent searching for gold mines as a geologist for a second career in the classroom.
"There are more gold deposits to be found in their minds. ... I need to discover more minds ... not mines," he said.

The Times joins the Gainesville and Hall County school systems in honoring all of the 2008-09 teachers of the year.

The statewide teacher of the year, selected from the top winners in each school system, will be announced at a banquet in May.



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