Michelle Masters came to teaching later in life, with it being her second career.
She is now one of nearly 60 teachers in the state to be named by Gov. Nathan Deal to the 2013 Master Teacher List.
“When I first graduated high school, my intentions were to teach,” she said. “And then my senior year (of college), I decided to change my mind and go into business administration.”
As a person who enjoys math, Masters spent years as an accountant, building a career until the sudden desire to get into the teaching field overwhelmed her. She attended Piedmont College for her master’s degree in education, and has been teaching at New Holland Core Knowledge Academy for the past nine years.
She knew from the beginning that she wanted to teach at the elementary school level.
“I love fourth grade,” she said. “That’s just such a great age group, right around third, fourth and fifth grade.”
With Pioneer Regional Education Service Agency and the Gainesville school system encouraging teachers to apply for the Master Teacher list, Masters was interested that the designation will remain on her teacher certification for seven years, which helps in the renewal process.
But her main motivation was to prove that it could be done.
“Working in a Title I school like I do ... I think it’s good for other teachers to know that you can have the success that you see at New Holland,” Masters said. A Title I school is when the number of low-income students exceeds 40 percent, with funds available for those schools.
Minimum requirements for the Master Teacher list included being a full-time Georgia public school teacher, and having had three years of teaching on a clear renewable certificate in the state.
Following a portfolio review, and review of student testing scores over the past two years, Masters earned her spot.
“I was excited,” she said. “I was just glad that I could represent Gainesville City Schools, and especially New Holland.”
New Holland principal Pam Wood and Gainesville City Schools Superintendent Merrianne Dyer both said Masters is a dedicated professional, deserving of the honor.
“She is a dedicated, passionate, diagnostic teacher ... one who understands her students thoroughly, and knows exactly what to prescribe for them to make them successful,” Wood said.
“It just exemplifies how hard we work here at New Holland, for all of our students,” she added. “We are just so very proud of the honor that she’s receiving because she certainly is absolutely deserving.”
The Master Teacher program released its inaugural list in 2006, and recognizes teachers who had advanced achievement in their classrooms, Dyer said.
Masters is the first teacher from the Gainesville school system to be named to the list.
“We’ve had a few other applicants and all of them have been excellent candidates,” Dyer said. “Which, to me, that speaks to the quality of the award, that it is highly competitive and is thoroughly vetted.”
Outside of the classroom, Masters enjoys reading and cheering on the University of Georgia Bulldogs.
She said that she is most looking forward to incorporating new technologies and teaching methods into her lesson plans.
“I plan to be a classroom teacher as long as I can be in there teaching,” she said.