Interim Superintendent Chris Ragsdale surprised the three at each of their schools in front of fellow educators.
“You can just tell that these teachers are really in it for the right reason,” Ragsdale said. “They love kids, and they had that excitement about them as they came back to work today. Of course, today was the first day of preplanning, and it was really neat to watch the surprise as we unfolded the announcement.”
Beth Knight, who teaches second grade at Hendricks Elementary, was hired as an academic coach in 2008. She and her team were able to elevate math performance from 69 percent “meets/exceeds” to more than 90 percent “meets/exceeds” in just two years, according to the district.
Hendricks Elementary Principal Patrick O’Connell said Knight stands out because of the close bonds she develops with her students, their families and with her colleagues.
“She makes extra efforts to connect with families, which ultimately helps parents support their children in greater ways,” O’Connell said. “Beth loves to learn to improve her craft, and she never stops in her search for different ways to serve every different kind of learner. She is committed to personal growth and the growth of her students.”
Rick Parker teaches seventh grade social studies at Daniell Middle School. Parker began a career in the Internet security business, but after 10 years, realized teaching was his calling.
In 2006, he was named Maryland Social Studies Teacher of the Year. The next year, he came to work for the Cobb School District.
Parker is known for wearing a coat and tie when he teaches to establish decorum. He and his students created their own version of Wikipedia for Social Studies. He also obtained a license for their own Google App for DaniellPedia.com.
Daniell Principal David Nelson called him “engaging, dynamic and intentional.”
“These are just three words which describe Mr. Rick Parker’s teaching style with the students of Daniell Middle School,” Nelson said. “Whether dressing in character as people that students are studying, providing experiences for students outside the classroom for events such as the Geography Bee or preparing students with 21st century digital learning experiences, such as ‘Daniellpedia,’ Mr. Parker ensures his students receive a premier education in history, both in and out of the classroom. His dedication to each individual student is evident in his students’ success. Mr. Parker is a master teacher.”
Tyler Gwynn teaches Honors Geography, Honors World History, U.S. History and Psychology at Allatoona High School. Gwynn came to Allatoona from South Cobb High School and has been a teacher in Cobb for 14 years.
Gwynn believes his most important mission is preparing students for real life.
In his class, students get a taste of real life during the semester by maintaining a budget and navigating life’s obstacles.
“Tyler Gwynn is an enthusiastic teacher who cares about his students, teaches with passion and makes learning fun every day,” said Allatoona Principal Scott Bursmith.
Each of the three level winners was first selected as local school Teachers of the Year by fellow faculty members.
School honorees submitted written applications for the district-wide honor, which are read and rated independently by a committee of administrators.
The highest-rated applicants from elementary, middle and high schools are named Teachers of the Year. The Cobb School District Teacher of the Year will be selected from among the three academic level winners following a comprehensive interview process, Ragsdale said.