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These are Hall County's teachers of the year
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Lanier Elementary's Jessica Cain works with a group of her first graders Tuesday, Dec. 17, 2019, as they read a book together. Cain has been named Hall County Schools' district teacher of the year. - photo by Scott Rogers

Jessica Cain, a first grade teacher at Lanier Elementary School, has been named Hall County Schools' district teacher of the year. Read her story. In addition to Cain, the following teachers have been designated as teachers of the year at their individual schools.

Kenneth Powers
Kenneth Powers
Kenneth Powers

School: Academies of Discovery at South Hall

Teaches: Chorus and theater arts

Years at school: 19

Years teaching: 19

City of residence: Watkinsville

Quote: “The most rewarding aspect of my job is in charting student growth while they are with me and following them with interest after they move on to high school and beyond.”


Chris Griffin
Chris Griffin
Chris Griffin

School: Cherokee Bluff High School

Teaches: Biology and forensics

Years at school: 2

Years teaching: 24

City of residence: Flowery Branch

Quote: “The opportunity to be a difference-maker everyday — no other job gives someone that opportunity.”


Heather Duren
Heather Duren
Heather Duren

School: Cherokee Bluff Middle School

Teaches: Engineering and technology

Years at school: 2

Years teaching: 13

City of residence: Jefferson

Quote: “I enjoy when students begin asking questions as a result of their curiosity of the topics we study. The reward, for me, is helping them to discover the answers to their questions by providing authentic and engaging learning experiences.”


Cindy Smith
Cindy Smith
Cindy Smith

School: Chestatee Academy

Teaches: Seventh grade social studies

Years at school: 4

Years teaching: 38

City of residence: Flowery Branch

Quote: “The most rewarding aspect of my teaching is being able to positively impact students to not only work hard and build academic skills but also to develop character traits that enable them to be a good human being in their interactions with others.”


Mary Catherine Tritt
Mary Catherine Tritt
Mary Catherine Tritt

School: Chestatee High School

Teaches: Analytic geometry and advanced algebra to sophomores and juniors

Years at school: 14 

Years teaching: 16 

City of residence: Dahlonega

Quote: “The richest reward from teaching comes when I connect with my students in such a way that they enjoy learning math, applying and connecting it to their lives.”


Richard Bass
Richard Bass
Richard Bass

School: Chestnut Mountain Creative School of Inquiry

Teaches: Fifth grade

Years at school: 11

Years teaching: 11

City of residence: Gainesville

Quote: “The most rewarding aspect of being a teacher is the ability to teach students that learning can be an enjoyable and rewarding lifelong activity.”


Kim Newell
Kim Newell
Kim Newell

School: Chicopee Woods Elementary School

Teaches: Second grade

Years at school: 10

Years teaching: 28

City of residence: Braselton

Quote: “I truly love teaching young children. Each day is a new opportunity to motivate and actively engage my students in the learning process. It's extremely rewarding to watch my students learn and grow throughout the year.”


Mary Ann Hurst
Mary Ann Hurst
Mary Ann Hurst

School: C.W. Davis Middle School

Teaches: Seventh grade math

Years at school: 12

Years teaching: 12

City of residence: Lula

Quote: “The children themselves are the reward. Middle school students, especially, are so fun and interested in what life has to offer. It is a blessing to be able to work with them each day to help them learn and grow, not only in their math skills but also to be able to build relationships with them and support them as they go on to achieve their goals in life.”


Katie Buffington
Katie Buffington
Katie Buffington

School: East Hall High School

Teaches: Honors world history, honors U.S. history and world history

Years at school: 5

Years teaching: 5

City of residence: Gainesville

Quote: “The most rewarding aspect of teaching is seeing the spark in my students’ eyes when they are having fun learning about history. I love seeing my students have a passion for learning. I also really enjoy seeing them find their passion in life and helping them plan their future.”


Emily Allison
Emily Allison
Emily Allison

School: East Hall Middle School

Teaches: Chorus

Years at school: 12

Years teaching: 12

City of residence: Toccoa

Quote: I love watching students thrive in a musical setting. Many of my students feel like they don’t fit in within the walls of a traditional classroom. Music allows them to connect on a deeper level — one where they learn who they are and who the people around them are.”


Caroline Gable
Caroline Gable
Caroline Gable

School: Flowery Branch Elementary School

Teaches: Special education 

Years at school: 5

Years teaching: 6

City of residence: Dahlonega

Quote: “The most rewarding aspect of my job is serving the same students for several years. It allows me to create meaningful relationships with my students and their families, advocate for their needs, see their long-term growth and witness their persistence in overcoming their challenges.”


Harmon Tison
Harmon Tison
Harmon Tison

School: Flowery Branch High School

Teaches: Engineering and technology

Years at school: 4

Years teaching: 4

City of residence: Flowery Branch

Quote: “I enjoy working with students and seeing them push through the productive struggle to reap the benefits of that hard work.”


Mikki Cosson
Mikki Cosson
Mikki Cosson

School: Friendship Elementary School

Teaches: Kindergarten Advanced Scholars program

Years at school: 19

Years teaching: 25

City of residence: Cumming

Quote: “I love my students fiercely. I firmly believe that building positive relationships with my students directly impacts their achievement in the classroom.”


Deborah Eidson
Deborah Eidson
Deborah Eidson

School: Johnson High School

Teaches: International Baccalaureate biology, honors biology and biology

Years at school: 15

Years teaching: 20

City of residence: Gainesville

Quote: “The students are the most rewarding part of this job. To see them grow and learn in biology as well as all aspects of life is just amazing. God has truly blessed me with a rewarding job where I get to work with teenagers and see their transformation into young adults.”


Jennifer Rudeseal
Jennifer Rudeseal
Jennifer Rudeseal

School: Lanier College & Career Academy

Teaches: Graduation coach 

Years at school: 3

Years teaching: 22

City of residence: Gainesville

Quote: “Building relationships with my students is the most rewarding aspect of my job.”


Marsha Holtzclaw
Marsha Holtzclaw
Marsha Holtzclaw

School: Lula Elementary School

Teaches: Fourth and fifth grade English language arts and social studies

Years at school: 6 teaching, 11 as a paraprofessional

Years teaching: 17

City of residence: Gillsville

Quote: “The most rewarding aspect of my job is having the opportunity to have a positive impact on students and their lives.  It is rewarding when former students come back and visit and share memories of their time spent with you.”


Linhares lyman hall.jpg
Stephanie Linhares
Stephanie Linhares

School: Lyman Hall Elementary School

Teaches: Kindergarten

Years at school: 7

Years teaching: 7

City of residence: Cumming

Quote: “My job is to focus on the academics but I try to form a relationship with each student and their families. When we work as one unit, the student begins to grow in other aspects of his or her life.”


Becca Thompson
Becca Thompson
Becca Thompson

School: Martin Technology Academy 

Teaches: Fourth grade

Years at school: 7

Years teaching: 7

City of residence: Jefferson

Quote: “I love getting to know my students and learning about their lives. It makes me so happy when former students come back to visit, and I truly enjoy keeping up with their families throughout the years.”


Cindy Maldonado
Cindy Maldonado
Cindy Maldonado

School: McEver Arts Academy

Teaches: Fourth grade

Years at school: 4

Years teaching: 8

City of residence: Gainesville

Quote: “The most rewarding aspect of my job is making that personal connection with my students and seeing them grow as learners.”


Jill Borg
Jill Borg
Jill Borg

School: Mount Vernon Exploratory School

Teaches: Fourth grade

Years at school: 8

Years teaching: 11

City of residence: Gainesville 

Quote: “I want my students to become lifelong learners, so I enjoy when they ask questions and learn to solve problems on their own. I absolutely love when my students realize they are capable of overcoming challenges. Knowing that I can play a role in helping a child succeed is why I do what I do.”


Kathryn Ingram
Kathryn Ingram
Kathryn Ingram

School: Myers Elementary School

Teaches: Fourth grade math and science

Years at school: 15

Years teaching: 15

City of residence: Gainesville

Quote: “The most rewarding aspect of my job is making a personal connection with each of my students and watching them grow academically and personally. I particularly find it most rewarding when I get a challenging kid and I watch him/her improve and overcome their obstacles.”


Kevin Carwile
Kevin Carwile
Kevin Carwile

School: North Hall High School

Teaches: All band classes

Years at school: 10

Years teaching: 20

City of residence: Buford

Quote: “I enjoy watching students improve as performers, musicians and people over their years in the program. Seeing kids struggle and then overcome that struggle through effort and practice is probably the most rewarding part of the job.”


Jay Ferrell
Jay Ferrell
Jay Ferrell

School: North Hall Middle School

Teaches: Seventh grade science

Years at school: 7

Years teaching: 7

City of residence: North Hall Middle 

Quote:  “As a teacher, I get to see firsthand students grasp new concepts and make discoveries that lead them to seek answers and satisfy their curiosity. Through these experiences, students gain confidence in themselves, and they begin to take pride in their accomplishments. I enjoy  helping students discover success and achieve goals that they never imagined they could reach.”


Justine Miller

School: Oakwood Elementary School

Teaches: Second grade

Years at school: 8

Years teaching: 8

City of residence: Flowery Branch

Quote: “I enjoy making a difference in children's lives and showing them they are capable of many things. There is so much joy, laughter and fun in our everyday.”


Madison Smith
Madison Smith
Madison Smith

School: Riverbend Elementary School

Teaches: Fourth grade English language arts

Years at school: 5

Years teaching: 5

City of residence: Clermont

Quote: “I enjoy forming relationships with my students that continue even when they leave my class. It is rewarding to watch students learn and grow into the person they were created to be. I'm happy that I can take part in encouraging them to be their best self.”


Kim Nicholson
Kim Nicholson
Kim Nicholson

School: Sardis Enrichment School

Teaches: Reading intervention for first grade and instructional coach

Years at school: 20

Years teaching: 26

City of residence: Dahlonega

Quote:  “I am especially fond of the Sardis community and its commitment to excellence and families. We support and encourage one another in countless ways. I teach princesses to be strong, cowboys to love and I watch teachers become the very best version of themselves.”


Marlo Waycaster
Marlo Waycaster
Marlo Waycaster

School: Spout Springs School of Enrichment

Teaches: Second grade

Years at school: 14

Years teaching: 14

City of residence: Pendergrass

Quote: “The most rewarding aspect of my job is knowing I am part of a profession that gets to build lifelong learners. I love watching kids learn and make it a point to make sure they love learning. I strive to do everything I can to give them the skills they need to be successful.”


Falyn Chembars
Falyn Chembars
Falyn Chembars

School: Sugar Hill Elementary School

Teaches: Fourth grade English language arts

Years at school: 5

Years teaching: 5

City of residence: Dahlonega 

Quote: “The most rewarding aspect of my job is the relationships I am able to build with my students. I feel that these relationships are most important and set the stage for any educational experiences that follow.”


Natalie Riley
Natalie Riley
Natalie Riley

School: Tadmore Elementary School

Teaches: Media specialist

Years at school: 7

Years teaching: 14

City of residence: Lula

Quote: “The best part of my job is connecting a child who doesn't love to read with a book that inspires them to become a reader.”


Anne Threadgill
Anne Threadgill
Anne Threadgill

School: The Foundry alternative school

Teaches: Special education and general education history

Years at school: 7

Years teaching: 7

City of residence: Gainesville

Quote: “I would say the most rewarding aspect of working with students is helping them realize their potential and helping to open their eyes to the possibilities of their futures. As teachers we are helping students realize their gifts, utilize their talents and hone skills they will need to go out into the world and succeed.​”


Megan Smith
Megan Smith
Megan Smith

School: Wauka Mountain Academy

Teaches: Fourth grade

Years at school: 6

Years teaching: 6

City of residence: Clermont

Quote: “The most rewarding aspect of my job is helping my students achieve success and seeing them light up when they master a concept for the first time. Building relationships and fostering a welcoming classroom community is also one of my favorite parts of being a teacher.”


Lesli Hutson
Lesli Hutson
Lesli Hutson

School: West Hall High School

Teaches: Exceptional student education

Years at school: 7 

Years teaching: 13

City of residence: Oakwood

Quote: “The most rewarding aspect of my job is being able to nurture the students’ strengths and creativity all the way to success.”


Renee Adams
Renee Adams
Renee Adams

School: West Hall Middle School

Teaches: Sixth grade science

Years at school: 7

Years teaching: 17

City of residence: Flowery Branch

Quote: “I have former students who are in the armed forces, have attended major universities, trade schools and even some I teach with every day. I don't get to take credit for their successes, but I do get the pleasure of knowing I was a small part of their incredible journey.”


Chase Armour
Chase Armour
Chase Armour

School: White Sulphur Elementary School

Teaches: Fourth grade math and science

Years at school: 5

Years teaching: 5

City of residence: Maysville

Quote: “I enjoy having the opportunity to make a positive impact in the lives of children.”


Yamelis Cepeda
Yamelis Cepeda
Yamelis Cepeda

School: World Language Academy Middle School

Teaches: Spanish 3, 4 and honors

Years at school: 4

Years teaching: 9

City of residence: Oakwood

Quote: “The most rewarding aspect of my job are the stories of success that parents and students get to share with me about their experiences speaking Spanish outside the school. These are small but such rewarding stories that I keep in my heart because it is not only about learning a different language but also about expanding their understanding and appreciation of different cultures.”


Elizabeth Silveira
Elizabeth Silveira
Elizabeth Silveira

School: World Language Academy Primary School

Teaches: Second grade

Years at school: 8

Years teaching: 27

City of residence: Flowery Branch

Quote: “One of the most rewarding aspects of my job is when I see children excited about their learning. Giving them opportunities to enjoy learning and grow upon their learning is a blessing.”


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