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8 honored as Masters in Teaching at Brenau University
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Georgia Teacher of the Year Allison Townsend speaks at the Brenau University Downtown Center Thursday, March 21, 2019, during the 11th Masters in Teaching: Life Changers at Work. The program is part of the Master Series founded by the late Gus Whalen at the Featherbone Communiversity. - photo by Scott Rogers

Educators from Brenau University, the University of North Georgia, Lakeview Academy, Riverside Military Academy, Gainesville City Schools and Hall County Schools were honored during the 11th annual “Masters in Teaching: Life Changers at Work” held at Brenau Downtown Center on Thursday, March 21.

Allison Townsend, a third-grade teacher at Barnwell Elementary in Johns Creek and Georgia’s Teacher of the Year for 2019, spoke at the event to high school students and leading educators about what it takes to empower young learners.

The program is part of the Master Series founded by Gus Whalen at the Featherbone Communiversity.

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Riverside Military Academy teacher Brenda Barger speaks Thursday, March 21, 2019 during the 11th Masters in Teaching: Life Changers at Work event at the Brenau University Downtown Center. - photo by Scott Rogers

Townsend said she doesn’t use a single rubric to make the big decisions as a teacher, but rather relies on personalizing instruction and relationships with students.

She told an anecdote about a troubled student she once taught, a student known for bullying who initially frightened some of his classmates.

Townsend said she invested in the student in unique ways, prepared her other students to help lead and work with the troubled student, and regularly addressed his academic and behavioral successes.

“I witnessed a change in my students, and that’s when I realized it was going to be OK,” Townsend said.

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Brenau University honors eight local educators Thursday, March 21, 2019, during the 11th Masters in Teaching: Life Changers at Work at the University's Downtown Center. Brenau professor of business ethics James Sennett is recognized as the Brenau Master Teacher. - photo by Scott Rogers

“It’s never perfect with rainbows and butterflies,” she added, but progress is possible when genuine investments are made.

“Thank you for all you are doing to invest in education,” Townsend told the audience.

When, at the end of the school year, the troubled student began showing growth, he was asked why Townsend was a “star” teacher.

The student wrote: “She listens to me and makes class fun.”

Townsend said the listening part made all the difference because, as people, we all want the same thing: “To be heard.”


2019 Masters in Teaching

  • James Sennett, Brenau University
  • Loredana Simonca, Gainesville City Schools
  • Jessica Chambers, Gainesville City Schools
  • David Osmond, University of North Georgia
  • Frank Zamora, Hall County Schools
  • Katie Eberhardt, Hall County Schools
  • Kelsey Marcero, Lakeview Academy
  • Brenda Barger, Riverside Military Academy

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