Chelsea Sell admitted it was a “roller coaster ride” for her on the early May day she won Paulding County’s District Teacher of the Year award.
As a sixth-grade science teacher, Sell said she attends an annual open house event for parents of fifth-graders ready to graduate to Austin Middle School.
This year’s meeting took place only hours after the emotion-filled Teacher of the Year ceremony, she said.
“I met all these wonderful parents and every one of them congratulated me and it was awesome but it was .... it was a lot,” Sell said.
Sell earned the award May 7 and is eligible to represent Paulding school district in a future Georgia Teacher of the Year competition.
She said her spouse had been “totally supportive” — both in helping her prepare for the award competition and generally for supporting her during the long work days, after-school meetings and stress teachers routinely face.
“Being a teacher, we bring a lot of stuff home — more than just grading papers,” she said. “Stories and worries about our kids … going back to school for late nights.”
Sell, 29, who describes herself as a “total nerd,” said she works to get all of her 12- and 13-year-old students involved in the daily lesson.
The teacher wears "fun" bow ties and silly socks, tells fictitious stories, and uses dancing and science-themed songs to keep her students “on their toes” during the lessons, the school district said in a news release.
It also highlighted the "energy" Sell brought to the job, but she said she was merely “being herself” as she taught.
“I’m not a very good actor,” she said. “I’m the same when there’s a party at my house. I think I’m naturally an entertainer.”.
Sell said she works on lessons that make it “difficult for them not to focus“ on the subject matter.
“It’s very structured but it may not look that structured,” she said.
Sell grew up in Gwinnett County and graduated from Collins Hill High School.
After earning a degree from Georgia Southern University in Statesboro, Sell returned to metro Atlanta and began her teaching career in 2011 as a science teacher at Turner Middle School in Douglas County.
There, she was the only middle school STEM teacher in Douglas County and taught all three grades at Turner Middle.
She then moved a few miles north to Paulding County and Austin Middle School in 2015 to teach sixth-grade science and social studies.
Sell emphasizes the need for the STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) curriculum.
“To be competitive, we have to (emphasize it),” she said.
The skills the curriculum gives students are flexible enough to be used in a number of high-demand positions, such as computer coding and programming, she said.