Two Teachers of the Year, one from the Cobb School District and one from Marietta, were recognized Wednesday for their impact on their districts and their ability to inspire their students.

Beth Foster, an ESOL and history/civics teacher at Osborne High School, and Laura Floryance, a first grade teacher at Sawyer Road Elementary School, had their handprints unveiled along the prestigious Teacher Walk of Honor on Marietta Square.

Foster and Floryance’s handprints join the scores of others along the walkway created with the Cobb Chamber of Commerce-initiated tradition more than three decades ago.

Surrounded by colleagues, families, friends, students and other community members and leaders, the handprints of Foster and Floryance were unveiled along one of the Square’s perimeter walkways, and the two teachers placed their hands in the prints for the traditional photograph.

Floryance said the ceremony was a surreal, once-in-a-lifetime experience.

“It was just such a blessing,” she said, noting that she used to dream about having her place on the Teacher Walk of Honor. “I used to go and put my hands on those hand prints. I’ve always wanted it just to shine a light on what the kids in my class do so brilliantly.”

Floryance said she’s honored to represent as Teacher of the Year a district that allows her to be as creative as she’s able to be with her students and to represent the best of Sawyer Road educators, who helped her become the teacher she is today.

Marietta Schools Superintendent Grant Rivera said he was thankful to the Cobb Chamber for their continued recognition of Teachers of the Year, adding that “Laura’s handprints and impact will inspire others for years to come.”

“Laura Floryance is a teacher who changes the lives of her students through her love for them and for learning,” he said. “She inspires her students and her peers with a genuine warmth and infectious enthusiasm.”

Sawyer Road Principal Susan Graves previously told the MDJ Floryance was “the perfect first grade teacher,” one who “marries fun with learning.”

“Students love being in her class. Honestly, we all want to be her student,” Graves said. “She brings learning to life. She loves her students as her own, and they love her.”

Foster, a graduate of Pope High School, said the ceremony on Wednesday was “truly an honor and an event I will never forget.”

She said though, just like in other jobs, teachers face many obstacles to smooth sailing. Unlike other occupations, “I get to be a part of students’ lives.”

“I get to see their joy, to see them laugh, to see them experience those light bulb moments ... and to ask me for advice with whatever is going on in their lives. I’m truly blessed to be in this role,” she said.

To be named districtwide Teacher of the Year out of “so many amazing teachers in Cobb County,” is likewise a blessing, Foster said, adding that she’s honored to be the one to represent their collective greatness.

And to know that her handprints will be immortalized on the Square is deeply meaningful, she said.

Cobb Schools Superintendent Chris Ragsdale called Foster “an example of Cobb’s high-quality educators who help students overcome obstacles and succeed in school and beyond.”

Ragsdale said teachers like Foster are the reason why 91% of Cobb students reach the graduation stage when they attend a Cobb high school for all four years.

Osborne Principal Josh Morreale has called her a dynamic educator who consistently meets the needs of all her students.

Cobb Chamber President and CEO Sharon Mason said the county is “blessed” with top-performing school districts and talented, dedicated teachers who are an inspiration to their community and students.

The Teachers of the Year will be further celebrated on Oct. 26 with the Chamber’s Teacher of the Year breakfast.

Follow Thomas Hartwell on Twitter at twitter.com/MDJThomas.

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