2014 Georgia Teacher of the Year Finalists
Tamika N. Ball, mathematics, Atlanta Public Schools, D.M. Therrell School of Health Sciences and Research
Brandon A. Mitchell, physical and environmental science, Barrow County, Winder-Barrow High
Jemelleh Coes, English language arts and reading, Bulloch County, Langston Chapel Middle
Terrie L. Ponder, social studies, Carrollton City, Carrollton Junior High
Jeanine Wetherington, gifted K-5, Colquitt County, Norman Park Elementary
Shannon Pollitz, eighth-grade gifted English language arts, Floyd County, Pepperell Middle
Barbara Rosolino, English language arts, AP literature and composition, Henry County, Eagle's Landing High
David DuBose, advanced music, band and instrumental music, Marietta City, Marietta High
Dr. Polly S. Holder, Spanish, Walton County, Walnut Grove High
Tanya Smith, physical science and gifted/accelerated chemistry, Wayne County, Wayne County High
The Georgia Teacher of the Year Program is sponsored by United Healthcare.
Bulloch County's Teacher of the Year is a finalist for 2014 Georgia Teacher of the Year, the state Department of Education announced Monday.
Jemelleh Coes, an eighth-grade special education teacher at Langston Chapel Middle School, was named one of 10 finalists from a pool of 155 applicants who had been selected as their school districts' Teacher of the Year.
"Being named the Teacher of the Year for the county was a great honor, and being selected as a top 10 finalist is truly astounding," Coes said. "I am proud to represent Bulloch County, as there are so many phenomenal teachers in our county that are well-deserving of this honor."
Coes said she thinks the judges might have singled her out for "the way I value each student for their strengths" and for her recognition that teachers must be committed to ensuring "success for each student."
Dr. Evelyn Gamble-Hilton, the principal of Langston Chapel Middle, agreed with Coes.
"I believe Ms. Coes is a finalist because most educators are satisfied with teaching students; however, she, as an effective educator, gives her students opportunities to learn," Gamble-Hilton said.
Bulloch County Schools and the Statesboro-Bulloch Chamber of Commerce named Coes the school district's Teacher of the Year during a surprise visit to her classroom in October.
"We are very proud of Mrs. Coes," Bulloch County Schools Superintendent Charles Wilson said. "We look forward to her representing us at the state level, and for her to continue utilizing her talents in our school system for years to come."
The 155 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.
Over the next several weeks, judges will conduct video observations and interview each of the finalists.
"I congratulate our 10 Georgia Teacher of the Year finalists and those who applied," State School Superintendent Dr. John Barge said. "As usual, we had a very impressive group of teachers make the top 10."
The finalists also will speak at a luncheon sponsored by Georgia Power Co. in April.
The winner will be announced at the Georgia Teacher of the Year banquet on May 3 at the Georgia International Convention Center. The banquet, paid for through donations from sponsors, will honor each local district Teacher of the Year. A reception hosted by United Healthcare will be held before the banquet.
The 2014 Georgia Teacher of the Year will travel around the state and the nation, serving as an ambassador for the teaching profession. The winner also will be entered in the National Teacher of the Year competition.
The 2013 Georgia Teacher of the Year is Lauren Eckman, a teacher of the blind and visually impaired at the Georgia Academy for the Blind.