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Local teacher awarded for innovative teaching
State Innovation in Teaching winner Lindsey Rhodes recent won a state Innovation in Teaching award from the Governor’s Office of Student Achievement.

Kindergartner Daniela Duran really likes her teacher Miss Lindsey.

“She’s really fun and she teaches us a lot of stuff,” Daniela said. “And while she’s teaching us, she makes it fun.”

That kind of teaching style helped Sugar Hill Elementary School teacher Lindsey Rhodes be named by Gov. Nathan Deal on Wednesday as one of seven winners in the Innovation in Teaching competition, a program for teachers who demonstrate “innovative teaching strategies” in Georgia standards in English/language arts and mathematics.

“She is an amazing teacher,” Principal Beth Skarda said. “We have kids typically that come in and they don’t know letters or numbers. They leave her class at the end of the year reading and writing ... and they can solve math problems and have mathematic reasoning.”

Skarda nominated Rhodes, who has taught kindergarten at Sugar Hill for the past seven years, for the award.

“We had to do a video,” Rhodes said about the application process. “I had to do a unit lesson plan so I did a 15-day plan for a writing unit, and I had to have letters of recommendation and then an application they had us do.”

She will receive a $2,000 stipend, and the school will get $5,000 to be used for classroom materials and technology.

“There are some software games that we use and they are just awesome,” Rhodes said, showing how her students were learning words with one of the games.

It’s just one of the many ways she embraces technology in the classroom.

“She let us do this thing that’s called a PowerPoint,” Daniela said. “We did arctic foxes, polar bears and penguins and she let us use the computers.”

“She lets us use the board, the iPads and the computers,” kindergartner Erick Soria added about his teacher. “She let us make pictures of arctic animals.”

In addition to the extra funding, Georgia Public Broadcasting will film the winning educators. Those videos will be made available to teachers and other education stakeholders.

The competition, through the Governor’s Office of Student Achievement, is made possible through Georgia’s Innovation Fund, a competitive grant program established through the state’s Race to the Top plan. Race to the Top was established in 2009 at the federal level to give an incentive to states to reform education practices.

Erick and Daniela don’t really care about that, though — all they know is Miss Lindsey is really cool to let them work on computers.

“Also,” Erick said, “she lets us eat ice cream on Fridays.”