Her principal calls her “the spark plug for the sixth grade” because of the energy she puts into motivating her students.
Science teacher Chelsea Sell of Austin Middle School said the energy she brings to the job is "not an act" after she was named the Paulding County School District’s 2019-20 school district Teacher of the Year award winner Tuesday, May 7.
The Paulding Education Foundation organizes the annual event, titled “Walk of Fame: The Annual Star Banquet,” to honor the Paulding district’s 33 school-level Teachers of the Year and the Employees of the Year from each of the district’s operations departments during a luncheon ceremony at West Ridge Church in Dallas.
Paulding Schools Superintendent Brian Otott said the teacher Walk of Fame "is a hallmark event for our school district."
“Since this is Teacher Appreciation Week across the nation, it’s a great time to recognize the excellent teachers and employees in our district who engage, inspire and prepare students each and every day. There’s no question that our teaching staff and our employees are second to none," he said.
“I want to congratulate Chelsea Sell for being named district Teacher of the Year. She is a superb teacher at Austin Middle School, and I know she will represent us well,” Otott said.
Austin Middle School Principal Greg Musgrove said Sell “loves teaching and that passion comes out in her classroom every day."
“She’s dancing, she’s singing, she does whatever she has to do to get the message across to the students,” Musgrove told district officials after the event.
“I remember the first time I stopped by her classroom and she was creating an educational rap song with the kids and I thought, ‘Now this is an amazing teacher right here.’ She just connects with the kids,” Musgrove said.
Sell said after the May 7 event that people ask her, “‘Where do you get all of that energy?’”
“It’s just all there all the time,” she said. “It’s not a show. It’s not an act. It’s just who I am.
“I love kids and I love being around people, and I am the biggest extrovert you will ever find,” Sell said. “So meeting new people is the energy that I get, and then I give that energy back to them.”
After graduating from Georgia Southern University, Sell began her teaching career in Douglas County. She has been teaching sixth-grade science and social studies at Austin Middle School since 2015.
Sell “instills passion, confidence and curiosity in her students and maximizes student engagement with her energetic demeanor, which has been described as ‘infectious,’” a news release stated.
“STEM is one opportunity that kids have to put their critical thinking to use and learn how to solve problems,” Sell said. “When you are doing a STEM project and you see those light bulbs go on, that’s the best part of teaching.”
Sell’s students “are actively involved in their education through animated discussions, group projects, and hands-on learning,” the release stated.
“You never know what will happen next in her classroom. But she knows the effects are just a part of the larger effort of preparing students for high school and beyond, and to do that she knows they must be engaged.
“As a science teacher, she really believes in the value of the (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) curriculum.
“She describes an experiment where she has students place a flat sheet of tin foil on top of water so it floats, and then she challenges them to make the tin foil sink without adding any weight or mass.
“Eventually the students figure out that if they fold or ball up the tin foil, increasing its density, it will sink. They learn in a very visual way the similarities and differences of weight, mass and density.”
The process of naming a district Teacher of the Year begins after each of the 33 schools names a Teacher of the Year by a March deadline, the release stated.
Profiles of the school-level winners are submitted to a committee that includes school district employees, foundation board members and community leaders, the district's website stated in March.
The committee reviews each candidate’s information and selects the one winner based on a biography, nominations and other supporting references, the website stated.
It also said “there are no clearly defined requirements” for the award but the committee generally looks for an “ability to inspire children from all backgrounds and abilities,” the “respect of colleagues, students and parents," “activity in the community”; and the “ability to fulfill the duties of the award.”
The district then names its Teacher of the Year in the spring, and that person serves the following school year and becomes eligible to be named Georgia Teacher of the Year.
MembersFirst Credit Union was the lead sponsor for the annual event May 7. Other sponsors included Credit Union of Georgia, Hart Insurance Agency, Stars and Strikes, Ragsdale Heating, Air and Plumbing; Chattahoochee Technical College; Sparkles Family Fun Centers, Chick-fil-A in Dallas and Hiram; Paulding PTA; Talley, Richardson & Cable attorneys; Herff Jones; and Paulding County School District Nutrition Services.
Allison Townsend, a Fulton County third-grade teacher who is Georgia’s 2019 Teacher of the Year, gave the keynote address.
She also announced the Employee of the Year, school-level Teachers of the Year and the district-wide Teacher of the Year award winners to the crowd at West Ridge Church.