Jason Smith wept and hugged his wife and sons when he was announced as the Newton County School System’s top teacher.
The Newton High School band director was selected from among 23 outstanding teachers as Newton County School System’s 2017 Teacher of the Year, and received a gift and a group hug from a delegation of Newton High School students Thursday night. Smith humbly accepted a standing ovation, gifts, and the accolades of an appreciative community during the ceremony.
In his remarks to his peers and the crowd assembled in the Newton High School Auditorium, Smith tearfully thanked God and his family saying “All the accolades and this award goes to everyone who supports me. My wife is number one. She allows me to do all the things I do.”
He thanked John Ellenberg, Principal for Newton High School where Smith is the band instructor, remarking that Ellenberg is the “best principal I have worked with.” He expressed appreciation for the parents of his band members, saying “Those people are absolutely amazing. Thank you for your organization and dedication to the band program.” And finally, he spoke to his mother, saying, “I miss you. I love you. I hope I have made you proud.”
In addition to the recognition of his peers and a grateful community, Smith received a $1,000 check and a crystal vase from the Covington-Newton County Chamber of Commerce and its Chamber Champions, as well as three months free use of the car of his choice from Covington Ford.
Ralph Staffins, chamber president, and Debbie Harper, the chamber’s membership director, presented plaques to all 23 school-level teachers of the year, crystal vases to the three finalists for system-level teacher of the year, and the “big check” to Smith. In recognizing all 23 honorees, Staffins said, “We all know that education is the key to the success of our communities. Teachers hold our future in their hands. They teach, mentor, and inspire children to reach their full potential. Their dedication and commitment is appreciated.”
For 18 years, Covington Ford has been providing three month’s use of a car to the Newton County School System’s Teacher of the Year. Matt Crowe made this year’s presentation. “Congratulations to everyone on this stage. I know the caliber of character and love you offer in and out of the classroom,” Crowe said. “It shows the type of talent we have within the Newton County School System.”
Samantha Fuhrey, Superintendent for the Newton County School System, closed the program with these words to the 23 teachers assembled on stage.
“I am so fortunate to know you. You are amazing. Thank you for all you do.” And to Smith, Fuhrey said, “Congratulations, I know you will be an excellent representative of the Newton County School System this year and in the competition for Georgia Teacher of the Year.”