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Claxton Elem.'s Derek Noel named Teacher of the Year

      CLAXTON - Fellow teachers cheered Monday morning, as Derek Noel was announced as the Evans County system-wide Teacher of the Year for the 2009-10 school year at a back-to-school breakfast meeting held at Claxton High School.
      School principals proudly announced each school-wide teacher of the year, as they were each presented with flowers.
      Recognizing the teachers with flowers drew a big laugh when elementary Principal Marty Todd hesitantly presented his teacher of the year, Noel, with a beautiful arrangement .
      The remaining three teachers of the year elected from their respective schools were Martha Ellen Hughes (Pre-K), Samantha Keyfauver (Claxton Middle), and Lynne Burkhalter (Claxton High).
      Lovingly addressed by fellow teachers as "Captain," Noel received special recognition from Superintendent Dr. Joy Collins after she shared excerpts from his teacher of the year application.
      Noel's application expressed passion for what he does as he described his own personal struggles as a student, which provides understanding and perspective for him in his own teaching, he said.
      As a student, he learned odd ways of studying, including reading outside or walking around the block while reading textbooks, he said.
      A diagnosis of attention deficit disorder later in life would only fuel his passion for teaching even more, he said.
      While coping with the short attention span of kindergarteners and first graders, he said he learned to mold his style of teaching to fit students' needs, rather than "trying to mold students to fit (his) style of teaching."
      About to begin his seventh year of teaching, Noel spent his first five years teaching kindergarten. This year will be his second year as a first grade teacher.
      "My accomplishments are not my own," he said, "but they belong to my students and the teachers who have guided me."

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