“We are here to recognize some outstanding teachers in our district,” said the school system’s Director of Transportation and Kiwanis member Harlan Plagmann in his introduction of the program.
While all of the teachers headed to the stage area to receive their plaque, one of them stayed to speak to local Kiwanians — Cowan Road Middle School’s Julie Evans, who was recently named the District Teacher of the Year.
“Being named the Teacher of the Year for the (school system) has been a very humbling experience,” Evans said.
She then shared the story of a little girl who one day walked into kindergarten class only to realize that she was different from the other students. Having been diagnosed with Turner syndrome, a chromosomal abnormality, she had a hard time understanding what her teacher said but was too embarrassed to bring it up. After school, she told her parents that she doesn’t like kindergarten and doesn’t want to go back.
Her parents met with the teachers, and after the meeting, her mother knew her daughter was in good hands. And indeed, with the support of her educators, the little girl worked hard and studied, and by the end of fifth grade, she actually loved school. The girl later went on to graduate as the valedictorian of her class.
“The teachers never gave up on her,” said Evans, who credited the experience as the main reason for why she became a teacher and revealed to the audience that the girl is her daughter.
Evans said the three most important qualities of a teacher to her are purpose, passion and perseverance.
“I try my best to exhibit those three qualities every day at Cowan Road Middle School,” she said. “(Students) need to know that they all matter. I want them to know that their dreams matter.”
The Teachers of the Year for the current school year are Kim Giddens (Anne Street Elementary), Amanda Franklin (Atkinson Elementary), Kathy Johnston (Beaverbrook Elementary), Michele Granger (Cowan Road Elementary), Jodena Avery (Crescent Elementary), Marsha Gamble (Futral Road Elementary), Andrea Woodroof (Jackson Road Elementary), David Brewer (Jordan Hill Elementary), Kendra Banks (Moore Elementary), Tracy King (Moreland Road Elementary), Diane Whatley (Orrs Elementary), Felicia Pittman (Carver Road Middle), Julie Evans (Cowan Road Middle), Shelley Worley (Kennedy Road Middle), Sonja Sands (Rehoboth Road Middle), Tonga Releford (A.Z. Kelsey Academy), Kristi Smith (The Achievement Center), Tracie Miles (Mainstay Academy), Edward Ramseur (Griffin High) and Yvonne Reid (Spalding High).