COVINGTON, Ga. - The Newton County School System and the Newton County Chamber of Commerce announced the top three finalist for the county's 2019-2020 Teacher of the Year award Thursday: Flint Hill Elementary's Dr. Shannon Price, Alcovy High's Eboni Simmons and Eastside High's Besty Proffitt.
NCSS Superintendent Samantha Fuhrey - along with other central office administrators - surprised the finalists inside their classrooms with flowers and balloons. Family members of the teachers were in attendance during the surprise visits.
Dr. Shannon Price
Price, a fourth-grade teacher at Flint Hill Elementary, began teaching within the NCSS in 1995 when she was hired as a teacher at Palmer-Stone Elementary. She has taught kindergarten, second, third and fourth grades for the NCSS.
In 2011, Price transferred to Flint Hill Elementary, where she has since remained as a teacher.
Price earned her bachelor's degree in elementary education from Georgia College in 1994, and in 1999, she earned her master's degree in elementary education from Piedmont. She earned her education specialist degree in teaching and learning in 2011, and in 2015, she earned her educational doctorate from Liberty.
In 2017, Price met all requirements for a leadership add-on to her educational specialist degree.
"I am blessed and very excited to just represent my school and county," Price said during her surprise visit. "I just look forward to what the future holds. I am kind of speechless. Just to be able to know that I make a difference in kids' lives - that's what it means to me. The everyday blessings I get from them and what I hope I impart to them, it just makes all the difference."
Simmons, biology teacher at Alcovy High, joined the NCSS in 2009.
Simmons served as a science teacher for middle and high school at New Birth Christian Academy from 2006 to 2009 before joining the NCSS.
In 2005, Simmons earned her bachelor's degree in biology from Georgia Southern University, and in 2012, she earned her master's in teaching in secondary science from Georgia State University. She holds an additional certification to teach gifted-secondary science.
“I am blown away,” Simmons said during her surprise visit. “I cannot believe that this just happened. I’m just humbled, I’m thankful, I’m grateful. I’m excited about what’s to come. I’m thankful to my coworkers who thought that I was able to receive this honor. I just appreciate everybody, and I’m just so grateful and surprised and amazed.”
Proffitt, aphysical science and chemistry teacher at Eastside High, joined the NCSS in 1992 when she was hired at Porterdale Elementary as a science, math and language arts teacher.
In 1997, Proffitt transferred to Indian Creek Middle, where she taught science and math until 2016 when she began teaching at Eastside High.
Proffitt earned her bachelor's and master's in education from the University of Georgia. She holds an additional certificate in teach gifted.
"I'm totally honored," Proffitt said during her surprise visit. "I feel very unworthy. I've been a teacher for a long time, and this is my twentieth year of teaching. I work really hard. I just feel like what I do is for the students, and I don't think about it any other way. I'm here for them, and I'm grateful for the opportunity to work with kids. I'm honored enough with that. To receive other accolades, it's just icing on the cake."
A panel of judges spent two days interviewing each of the 23 nominated teachers from the school system, according to the NCSS Sept. 19 news release.
On Tuesday, Sept. 24, the Teacher of the Year committee will observe each h of the three finalists in their classrooms, according to the news release. The teacher with the highest combined score on the essay, interview and observation will be announced as NCSS 2020 Teacher of the Year during a 4:45 p.m. ceremony Thursday, Oct. 3 at Newton High School.
“It always gives me great pleasure to recognize and honor our outstanding teachers of the year,” Fuhrey said in the news release. “To have been selected as one of the top three candidates is certainly an exceptional honor. Congratulations to each of these extraordinary educators! Individually and collectively, they represent all that is special with regard to teaching and learning. I am proud of their dedication, expertise and creativity, as each of them impacts their students far greater than they know.
Newton County’s Teacher of the Year program would not be possible if it were not for the support of the community.
As a result, the NCSS and the Newton County Chamber of Commerce would like to extend special thanks to the Chamber Champions, sponsors of the 2020 Teacher of the Year program: Abbey Hospice; Alcovy Media; Athens Orthopedic Clinic; AT&T; BB&T; Beaver Manufacturing; Bridgestone Golf; BD; Covington Ford; Covington News; Fidelity Bank; General Mills; Georgia Connector; GPTC; Ginn Motor Company; Hargray Fiber; High Priority Plumbing; MAU; Newton County Water Authority; Newton Citizen; Newton Federal Bank; Nisshinbo Automotive; Oxford College at Emory University; Piedmont Newton; Pinnacle Bank; Takeda; SKC, Inc.; Snapping Shoals EMC; SteelCo; Sunbelt Builders, Inc.; Synovus; Three Ring; TPA Realty Services; Tread Technologies (Michelin); United Bank of Covington; Wagner Service Solutions; The Center; and Newton College and Career Academy.