Top three finalists named
The new Newton High School auditorium burst into applause Thursday night as Eastside High School teacher Ashley Rickard was named the 2014 Teacher of the Year for Newton County schools.
“I am humbled, humbled. That’s the word that keeps ringing in my ears,” Rickard said after the announcement was made by Hunter Hall, president of the Newton County Chamber of Commerce.
Rickard received a dozen roses, a three-month free car rental from Covington Ford and a check for $1,000 from the Covington-Newton County Chamber of Commerce. She will represent the school system in the Georgia Teacher of the Year program.
Rickard was one of three finalists in the running to be the 2014 Teacher of the Year. Runner-ups included Heard-Mixon Elementary School's Maria Hargrove and Newton College and Career Academy’s Dolores Williams, who both were honored with vases and plaques during the ceremony.
All three teachers were scored on submitted essays, interviews and were observed in their classrooms as a part of the competition.
During the ceremony, Hall emotionally read to the audience excerpts from each of the teachers’ essays submitted in the competition, before naming Rickard as the school system’s top teacher for the 2012-13 school year.
As Rickard gave her remarks she said, “there are people who work and live a lifetime looking for their purpose and I feel like I’m one of the fortunate ones because I found it early on and as a result I have been able to love every moment of my career.”
She thanked her husband Ryan, also an educator, her family and the staff and faculty at Eastside High School for being a strong support system.
“I’m really fortunate to have him in my corner, always. My parents, my sister, my grandparents and my extended family, they have never once made me second-guess or question my decision to follow this career,” she said. “Although it’s not the most lucrative career, they understand that the rewards outshine any of the struggles and I’m thankful for that.”
“To my Eastside family … and we are that, we are a family. I’m so thankful for them and their unwavering support. I have the privilege to literally teach the best and the brightest kids in this county and I deal with them day in and day out,” she said. “They are what make me great because it is easy to be good when you are surrounded by greatness and I am so thankful. They’re an inspiration.”
Rickard began her career with the school system at Eastside High School in 2009. Rickard teaches Advanced Placement English Language and Composition. She earned a bachelor’s degree in secondary English education from Georgia Southern in 2008 and is currently studying for a master’s degree in instructional technology from the University of West Georgia.
NCSS Superintendent Samantha Fuhrey congratulated Rickard on her achievement.
“I wish you the very best in the state competition,” Fuhrey said. “I know that you will be an excellent representative for our school system in the years to come.”
Fuhrey also acknowledged the 22 other Teacher of the Year representatives, who each received plaques at the ceremony for their accomplishments.