The recently selected top teacher in Gainesville City Schools is a dedicated autism teacher at Gainesville Middle School.
Heather McConnell was named the 2017 Teacher of the Year for Gainesville, according to a news release from the district. The announcement was made at the Gainesville High School football state playoff game Nov. 13 in a presentation by Superintendent Wanda Creel and Gainesville Middle School Principal Rose Pre-Jean Harris.
“We are proud of the exemplary way that Heather serves our students at school and within the community, and we commend her for her dedication to a profession that is both challenging and rewarding,” Creel said.
McConnell, a 2006 graduate of Gainesville High School, began teaching in Gainesville as a substitute teacher in 2011, was later hired as a paraprofessional and became a lead autism teacher in 2012.
According to the release, McConnell uses praise in her classroom to help her students overcome their daily challenges. She said these “little things add up quickly” and lead to well earned progress.
“The Lord had a classroom of rambunctiously challenging and sweet boys planned for me, and I wouldn’t want to teach in any other environment,” she said.
McConnell called the honor “shocking, humbling and encouraging.” She is the daughter of two Gainesville school teachers, Dave and Denise McConnell.
She will compete for 2017 Georgia Teacher of the Year with other district winners from around the state. The announcement will be made at the annual banquet in May.