A math and science teacher known for her “dedication” is Paulding County’s choice as Teacher of the Year.
Susan Merchant, an advanced math and science teacher at Dobbins Middle School, was revealed as the winner of the county school district’s top teaching award at a luncheon ceremony at West Ridge Church in Dallas Tuesday.
“It’s a real honor to be recognized for what I do,” Merchant said following the event. “I know my kids are excited for me and probably are back at school cheering me on.
“All I can say is that it’s a pleasure teaching those kids every single day,” she said.
The event honored Teacher of the Year winners from each of the district’s 33 schools plus Employees of the Year from each of the district’s operations departments.
Casey Bethel, a former Douglas County science teacher and 2017 Georgia Teacher of the Year, was the event’s keynote speaker and presented the recognitions.
Merchant has been a teacher for 11 years at Dobbins Middle School. She teaches eighth-grade math and ninth-grade algebra, serves as the math curriculum lead teacher, and sponsors the school’s Academic Bowl team.
She is known for her enthusiasm and subject knowledge and she combines those assets with a strong work ethic and integrity, a news release stated.
Dobbins Middle School interim principal Donna Broyles said, “Dedication is the word that describes Susan.”
“She is truly dedicated to our school as a whole and being a teacher leader. You see that in her willingness to extend herself by pursuing opportunities to grow and become a better teacher,” Broyles said. “She wants to get better and better every year.”
The Paulding Education Foundation hosted and organized the annual event, dubbed the Walk of Fame Annual Star Banquet, with the help of multiple sponsors including lead sponsor MembersFirst Credit Union.
Also in attendance were elected officials including school board members, principals, school district employees and students from the Paulding County High School Culinary Arts program who prepared the meal for the event.
Paulding schools Superintendent Brian Otott said the event “is one of the hallmark occasions for our school district.”
“It’s a real opportunity to see what our mission statement, ‘Engage, Inspire, Prepare,’ is all about,” Otott said. “I happen to think that all of the teachers and employees in our district do a phenomenal job each and every day, but the group here today is the best of the best, and they deserve this recognition
“I want to congratulate Susan Merchant for being named district Teacher of the Year. She is an outstanding teacher and I know she will represent us well.”
In the Paulding County School District, each of the district’s 33 schools names its Teacher of the Year by a March deadline. Each school-level Teacher of the Year then submits an application to the district, and those applications undergo a third-party review to recommend a district Teacher of the Year.
Following review of the recommendation, the district then names its districtwide Teacher of the Year in the spring. The winner serves the following school year and becomes eligible to compete for the Georgia Teacher of the Year award.
The Employee of the Year program “highlights contributions of non-teaching school employees who support the education of students in preschool through grade 12,” a news release stated.
“The overall purpose of the program is to pay tribute to the tireless efforts of the district’s outstanding school employees who are not eligible for recognition as a Teacher of the Year,” a release stated. “These employees are vital staff members who play key roles in creating a district and school environment that promotes our district’s vision and mission.”
The district’s Human Resources Department announced the award recipients in seven job categories. Employees of the Year include:
• School Nutrition: Anita Thomas, SNP manager, Dugan Elementary School;
• Maintenance, Operations, and Facilities: Christopher Bone, low voltage technician, Paulding County School District Maintenance Department;
• School Support Services: Patricia Lattimore, school nurse, Shelton Elementary School:
• School Instructional Support: April Mariona, ISS paraprofessional, P.B. Ritch Middle School;
• District Support Services: Michele Taylor, HR Secretary II, Paulding County School District Human Resources Department;
• Transportation: Walter Croft, bus driver, Bus No. 270;
• School Leadership: Principal Stefanie Bowen, Hutchens Elementary School.
Individual schools’ Teachers of the Year included:
• Abney Elementary: Melissa Westmoreland
• Allgood Elementary: Alicia Gray
• Austin Middle: Stephanie Shelnutt
• Baggett Elementary: Brandon Chason
• Burnt Hickory Elementary: Joanne Langdon
• Dallas Elementary: Alicia Jones
• Dobbins Middle: Susan Merchant
• Dugan Elementary: Mark Berryhill
• East Paulding High: Angela Howard
• East Paulding Middle: Laurie Parker
• Hiram Elementary: Nikki Stewart
• Hiram High: First Sgt. Louis Dinkins
• Hutchens Elementary: Shelley Smith
• Jones Middle: Wendy Bailey
• McClure Middle: Latrell Scott
• McGarity Elementary: Elisabeth Eaves
• Moses Middle: Kelley Townsend
• Nebo Elementary: Alison Gurley
• New Georgia Elementary: Latonya Glanton
• North Paulding High: Scott Tierce
• Northside Elementary: Lorie Coleman
• P.B. Ritch Middle: James Chase-Wegner
• Panter Elementary: Kristina French
• Paulding County High: Sarah Robertson
• Poole Elementary: Bethel Ostrow
• Ragsdale Elementary: Amy Delaney
• Roberts Elementary: Misty Baxter
• Russom Elementary: Patti Swift
• Scoggins Middle: Taylor Hern Eubanks
• Shelton Elementary: Jeremy Cole
• South Paulding High: Michael Skelton
• South Paulding Middle: Ryan Gordon
• Union Elementary: Nicole Longshore