LaGRANGE — Monday morning, immediately before a classroom observation, Troup High School teacher Michelle Ashmore received a phone call from State Superintendent Richard Woods. While she wasn’t sure what the phone call was about, it became clear that it was some news she had been waiting to hear for months: she has been named a 2017 State Teacher of the Year Finalist in Georgia.
Full of tears, she thanked Woods for the news — but there was a catch. She had to wait a full day to share it because all the finalists had not been notified. Clearing up her face and bottling the excitement, she carried on throughout the day as if everything was normal.
Tuesday afternoon, school system Superintendent Cole Pugh; Karen Cagle, assistant superintendent of curriculum, instruction and professional learning; and Troup High School Principal Chip Medders surprised her with flowers and a balloon, signifying the news was out. Pugh made the presentation to her class as they clapped and gave her high fives.
As one of 10 finalists, she was chosen from a pool of 155 applicants who submitted applications to the Georgia Department of Education. Their applications were read by a panel of judges that included teachers, past Georgia Teacher of the Year winners and finalists, administrators, community leaders and others. The finalists were chosen based on the strength of their essay responses.
“This is a great honor for Mrs. Ashmore and Troup County,” Pugh said. “She is very excited about education and her students love her innovative teaching methods. We look forward to seeing where she goes next in this process.”
Ashmore teaches advanced placement government and economics at Troup High School and was chosen as the school system’s Teacher of the Year in 2015.
She has been working hard to prepare for this moment.
“I am just thrilled right now,” she said. “I have reached out to mentors who are providing me feedback about the next round in the competition.”
Over the next several weeks, a panel of judges will conduct video observations and interviews and hear speeches given by the finalists. The winner will be announced in mid-May.
“Having excellent teachers in the classroom is absolutely essential — our students cannot succeed at high levels without them,” said Woods, the state superintendent. “Every one of these 10 finalists is a shining example of the difference a great teacher makes in the life of a child. I congratulate each of them on their accomplishments and look forward to working with them to ensure our policies are child-focused and classroom-centered.”
This year marks the 45th anniversary of the Teacher of the Year program in Georgia. This year’s anniversary will be celebrated with a gala in Savannah with state first lady Sandra Deal as chair.
The 2017 Georgia Teacher of the Year will travel around the state and the nation, serving as an ambassador for the teaching profession. The winner will also be entered in the National Teacher of the Year competition.
To learn more about the Teacher of the Year program, go to http://www.gadoe.org/External-Affairs-and-Policy/Excellence-Recognition/Pages/Georgia-Teacher-of-the-Year-Program.aspx
From a press release submitted by Troup County School System.