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2022 Georgia Teacher of the Year finalists announced

MEDIA CONTACT: Meghan Frick, GaDOE Communications Office, mfrick@doe.k12.ga.us

May 6, 2021 – State School Superintendent Richard Woods today announced the 10 finalists for 2022 Georgia Teacher of the Year.

The finalists were chosen from a pool of applicants all previously selected as their school district’s Teacher of the Year. The applications were read by a panel of judges that included teachers, past Georgia Teacher of the Year winners, administrators, community leaders and others. The finalists were chosen based on the strength of their essay responses.

“I am incredibly proud to announce the finalists for 2022 Georgia Teacher of the Year,” Superintendent Woods said. “This is a group of creative, hardworking, talented teachers who pushed through great challenges this year to ensure students were still able to learn, connect, and grow. I am proud to call each of them my colleagues.”

Because the Georgia Teacher of the Year program was paused due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this year’s finalists were selected from the original 2021 cohort (those initially slated to be recognized in May 2020). This ensured that cohort would not miss the opportunity to be recognized by the statewide program.

Finalists will meet with a panel of judges for a formal interview and give speeches virtually. The winner will be announced August 7, 2021.

The 2022 Georgia Teacher of the Year will travel around the state and nation, as COVID-19 protocols allow, serving as an ambassador for the teaching profession in Georgia. He or she will also be entered in the National Teacher of the Year competition.

The 2020 and 2021 Georgia Teacher of the Year is Tracey Nance Pendley of Atlanta Public Schools. To learn more about the Georgia Teacher of the Year program, click here.

2022 Georgia Teacher of the Year Finalists (in alphabetical order by last name)

Natasha Nicole Berry, Third Grade Teacher, Sallas Mahone Elementary School, Valdosta City Schools

Tewanna L. Brown, Business and Computer Science Teacher, Mount Zion Middle School, Carroll County Schools

Rebecca Elizabeth Carlisle, AP World History and STEM Humanities Teacher, North Gwinnett High School, Gwinnett County Public Schools

Cherie Bonder Dennis, ESOL Teacher, Hesse K-8 School, Savannah-Chatham County Public Schools

Shanika Nichole Freeman, Fifth Grade Social Studies Teacher, Moreland Road Elementary School, Griffin-Spalding County Schools

Catherine Nichole Hampton, Elementary STEAM Teacher, W.L. Swain Elementary School, Gordon County Schools

Michelle Mickens, English Teacher, Washington-Wilkes Comprehensive High School, Wilkes County Schools

Maggie Johnson Pruitt, Self-Contained Special Education Teacher, Buford High School, Buford City Schools

Jennifer Hawthorne Smith, Kindergarten Teacher, Jeffersonville Elementary School, Twiggs County Schools,

Matthew Ellis Taylor, Fifth Grade Math and Science Teacher, Southwest Laurens Elementary School, Laurens County Schools

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