Finalists named for 2007 Gwinnett Teacher of the Year; Top teacher to be announced at Nov. 2 banquet

Finalists named for 2007 Gwinnett Teacher of the Year; Top teacher to be announced at Nov. 2 banquet

The field of teachers in the running for the 2007 Gwinnett County Teacher of the Year (TOTY) title has been narrowed to six finalists. One of these six will become Gwinnett’s Teacher of the Year at a banquet on Nov. 2, 2006, at 6:30 p.m. at the Gwinnett Center. All 105 local school winners from Gwinnett County Public Schools (GCPS) will be honored that night.

A committee selected the six finalists from a field of 20 semifinalists. As the final element of the judging process, the selection committee will observe the six teachers in their classrooms. During the visit, the committee will look for original teaching methods, how the teacher demonstrates his/her philosophy of teaching, and special class projects. Committee members also will conduct interviews with the finalists.
The finalists for this year are:

Tiffany English, a music teacher for grades 1-5 at Sugar Hill Elementary.
A product of Gwinnett County Public Schools, Tiffany English has dedicated her 12-year career to GCPS, working with students at W.C. Britt Elementary (1994-99), Rock Springs Elementary (1999-2004), and her current school, Sugar Hill Elementary. Mrs. English holds a bachelor’s degree in music education from the University of Georgia and a master’s degree in early childhood education from Piedmont College.

Mrs. English has demonstrated leadership inside the classroom, and around her school community. She is a lead teacher for elementary music within GCPS, a role she uses to promote and facilitate professional learning for her Gwinnett colleagues. In addition, she is the president of the Atlanta Area Chapter of the American Orff-Schulwerk Association, an organization dedicated to teaching and learning about music.
Cindy Apley Rose, an 8th grade algebra teacher at Shiloh Middle.
Since entering the profession in 1997, Cindy Apley Rose has spent her entire teaching career at Shiloh Middle. She holds a bachelor’s degree in middle grades education and a master’s degree in special education, both from Brenau University. Ms. Rose also earned a specialist’s degree in mathematics education from the University of Georgia. She is certified as a teacher support specialist, and holds a National Board Certification.

Ms. Rose has served on a state-level committee to develop an instructional framework for the state’s enhanced 7th grade math standards. She also has worked with the state Department of Education to align state and national math assessments. Based on those experiences, Ms. Rose has designed and presented a professional learning class for her peers.
Dana Griffith, a physical education teacher for grades 6-8 at Berkmar Middle.
Dana Griffith has served Gwinnett students as a physical education teacher for more than 13 years, first at Snellville Middle (1993-1996) and J.P. McConnell Middle (1996-2004), moving to Berkmar Middle in 2004. She also teaches at Georgia Perimeter College. Mrs. Griffith holds a bachelor’s degree in physical education from Ohio University, a master’s degree in Exercise Physiology from Georgia State University, and a specialist’s degree in curriculum and instruction from Piedmont College. She also is a National Board Certified Teacher.

Mrs. Griffith participated in the Fulbright Teacher Exchange Program in 1998-99, living and teaching in Hyvinkaa, Finland. This experience helped her develop professionally and gave her a new perspective on education in the U.S.
Charles J. Kachmar, a teacher of mechanical drafting, architectural drafting, and engineering in the Grayson High Technical Education Program.
Charles J. Kachmar has been teaching since 1995, six years in Gwinnett. He started his education career with GCPS teaching engineering and technology at South Gwinnett High (1999-2005) and is in his second year with the Grayson High Technical Education Program. Mr. Kachmar holds a bachelor’s degree in industrial technology from Central Connecticut State University and a master’s degree in technology education from the University of Georgia (UGA.) Mr. Kachmar is pursuing his doctoral degree with UGA.

Mr. Kachmar volunteers as a consultant for colleagues looking to implement engineering design strategies in technology programs around the country. This fall, he will present a civil engineering workshop on bridge construction at the fall leadership conference of the Georgia Technology Student Association.
Sarah Skinner, a 12th grade and Advanced Placement language arts teacher at Peachtree Ridge High.
Sarah Skinner has been with the school system since 1994, teaching both language arts and chorus at the high school level. She taught at Norcross High (1994-2000), and Collins Hill High (2000-03) before joining the faculty at Peachtree Ridge High. Ms. Skinner holds a bachelor’s degree in English and music and a master’s degree in secondary English education, both from Emory University. She is working on her doctoral degree in language and literacy education from the University of Georgia. In addition, she has earned National Board Certification.

Ms. Skinner chairs the language arts department at her school. Since 2004, she has served as head facilitator of the school’s summer reading program, helping to build a community of learners among the staff, committed to engaging the students, and encouraging reading skills.
Matthew M. Winking, a mathematics teacher for grades 10-12 at Phoenix High.
Matthew M. Winking has been an educator for almost 14 years, teaching math at Phoenix High since 1996. He also teaches math classes at Georgia Perimeter College. Mr. Winking holds a bachelor’s degree in education and a master’s degree in mathematics education, both from the University of Georgia. In addition to his classroom duties, Mr. Winking manages and develops the Web site for his school. He regularly facilitates professional learning for colleagues locally and nationally, sharing technology labs, diagnostic resources, analysis tools, warm-ups, graphic organizers, and examples of student work. He also has been involved with curriculum development for the system’s proposed advanced math, science, and technology high school.

Three of the six finalists will be designated as the elementary, middle, and high school teachers of the year. (As the only finalist at the elementary level, Mrs. English automatically becomes the winner at that level.) The county winner will be selected from among the three level winners and will go on to represent the county in the Georgia TOTY competition.

Gwinnett’s Teacher of the Year will receive a yearly award of $1,000 and the other level winners will each receive $750 yearly, as long as they are employed with GCPS. The other three finalists will receive a one-time award of $500, and each local school winner will receive a one-time award of $200.