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NCSS teacher of the year finalist for state award

COVINGTON, Ga. - Newton High School science teacher Lewis Kelly, the Newton County School System’s 2019 Teacher of the Year, is a finalist for Georgia Teacher of the Year.

“I am ecstatic, excited, humbled and honored to be named a finalist for Georgia Teacher of the Year,” Kelly said. “I am grateful and thankful to God that He has afforded me this honor and I truly thank God for the opportunity to represent not only the teachers of Newton County but also, hopefully, the teachers in the state of Georgia.”

According to Ms. Keisha Ford-Jenrette, program manager of excellence recognition for the Georgia Department of Education, 10 finalists are in the running for Georgia’s 2020 Teacher of the Year.

“The finalists were chosen from a pool of applicants all previously selected as their school district’s Teacher of the Year,” Ford-Jenrette said. “The applications were read by a panel of judges that included teachers, past Georgia Teacher of the Year winners, administrators, community leaders and others. The finalists were chosen based on the strength of their essay responses.”

“The 10 2020 finalists for Georgia Teacher of the Year are an exceptional group of educators and I’m proud to call them my colleagues,” State School Superintendent Richard Woods said. “Each one of them exemplifies what a teacher should be – caring, skilled, knowledgeable and intellectually curious, and first and foremost, laser-focused on the well-being, potential and success of their students.”

“I am thrilled for Mr. Kelly,” Samantha Fuhrey, superintendent of Newton County Schools said. “He is an excellent teacher and a wonderful representative of Newton High School and the Newton County School System. Mr. Kelly is widely loved and respected by his students and peers and I know he would make an outstanding ambassador for educators in the state of Georgia. On behalf of the students and staff of the entire Newton County School System, I congratulate Mr. Kelly for this tremendous honor and wish him the very best as he participates in the state interviews.”

Mr. Kelly is an epidemiology and physical science teacher at Newton High School, where he has worked since August 2014. He previously taught biology in both the DeKalb and Henry County school systems. Mr. Kelly earned his Bachelor of Science degree from South Carolina State University in 2000. After a six-year career in the National Football League, where he played offensive guard for the Minnesota Vikings and the New York Giants, Mr. Kelly earned a Master’s in Education from the University of Phoenix and pursued a career in education. He has been a teacher since 2011.

Mr. Kelly and the nine other finalists for Georgia Teacher of the Year will meet with a panel of judges for a formal interview and give speeches during a finalists’ luncheon today. The winner will be announced Saturday, May 18, 2019. The 2020 Georgia Teacher of the Year will travel around the state and the nation, serving as an ambassador for the teaching profession in Georgia. The winner will also be entered in the National Teacher of the Year competition.