Administrators and educators with Rome City Schools invited teachers and their families to a ceremony at the Courtyard by Marriott Rome Riverwalk where they announced their selections for the system's 2019 Teacher and Support Employee of the Year.
The winners were chosen from a group of candidates who have won Teacher or Support Employee of the Year for their home schools. Members of the Rome City Schools' Board of Education, along with Superintendent Louis Byars, Central Office faculty members, schools principals, and fellow educators, were also on hand for the special announcement.
Candidates had to complete a rigorous application process and be chosen by a panel at the state level.
The 2019 Support Employee of the Year was awarded to Roderick Ware who serves as a paraprofessional at Elm Street Elementary. Ware has worked in the RCS system since 2016. His duties also include being a bus monitor for Elm Street, Rome Middle School and Rome High School.
"If I can just reach one student," Ware said as he choked back tears of joy, "and change his or her life, then that student can change someone else's life. If we can start that cycle, then the world will be a better place."
"Our school family believes in a team approach, and together we are invested to help our students grow," said Laura Walley, principal at Elm Street. "Mr. Ware is a wonderful example of someone who is truly all in, and he accepts the challenge, no matter what. His heart is in the absolute right place. Well done, Mr. Ware. Thank you for all that you give to Elm Street."
Runner up for the 2019 Teacher of the Year was awarded to Luis Goya from Rome High School. Goya has served at Rome High School as the ninth grade math and ESOL teacher for the past five years. He has also been instrumental in building the cross country teams and establishing running clubs at six elementary schools.
Goya was joined by his family. He said they are his inspiration and the reason he is the man he is today. But he also finds his passion in those young lives he reaches in the hallways and on the running trails. "There is no reason why all of our students can't find their destiny. And sometimes it is the other way around, and we find our destiny in them," Goya said.
Rome City Schools' Teacher of the Year for 2019 is Ashley Hamby, agriculture teacher at Rome Middle School. Hamby was recently voted Best of Rome in a contest held by Rome News-Tribune in addition to her being named Rome Middle's Teacher of the Year. Hamby got her start by teaching special education, and because of her time spent farming with her grandfather, she has found a passion in creating a thriving FFA program at the middle school. She credits her success to her family, colleagues, and her love for her career and her students.
"It is a great honor to have someone in our building who is respected by so many people," said Parke Wilkinson who serves as the middle school principal. "She is so passionate about what she does and she is one of those teachers who touches her students' lives. She goes above and beyond to educate children and she makes my role easier because of her dedication to her class. From a personal standpoint, my son is one of her former students and he still talks about her today. He is now in high school. In middle school, we only have a short time with our students to form lasting relationships, so for her to have such a tremendous impact on him and other children is amazing. Her way of building a bond with her students is what makes her so special, and I am so proud to work with her."
"I love my job, I love where I work and I love my children. I also love to see my students get excited about the things we discuss in the agriculture world and I try to open their eyes to how the skills we work on in FFA can be used in their lives. I am so glad that we have a chance to change the world and I believe that is what we are all working towards every day," Hamby smiled as she spoke to the room of her peers and family members.
"These professionals have shown that they not only set goals and achieve them personally, but also that they can set goals for their students and help them to achieve more. It is all about building strong relationships with the students," said Buffi Murphy, professional learning specialist for Rome City Schools. "All of our teachers and support employees honored here tonight have shown that they can inspire our children and encourage them to move to the next level. We are very fortunate to have outstanding teachers here in Rome City Schools."