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Top of the class
Three finalists for Newton County Teacher of the Year announced
Kristen Bagwell - photo by Sandra Brands

Surprising each teacher in their classroom Friday morning, Newton County School Superintendent Samantha Fuhrey presented a bouquet of flowers and balloons to the three finalists for teacher of the year.

Robert “Bo” Holder, a third grade teacher at South Salem Elementary School, Amanda Angulo, a seventh grade science and math teacher at Indian Creek Middle School and Kristen Bagwell, a literature teacher at Alcovy High School, were chosen after earning the three highest combined scores on essay, interviews and observations with the judging panel.

Joining Fuhrey in surprising the finalists were Deputy Superintendent Dr. Craig Lockhart, School Board Chair Abigail Coggin, other central office. Friends and family members of the three finalists were in on the surprise visits.

Angulo, who has taught at Indian Creek Middle School for 19 years, said she was proud to be named a finalist. “I work with great teachers every day. I love every day, every moment is a new experience.”

When asked what they thought of their teacher being named a finalist, the seventh grade class shouted, “You’re a great teacher!”

Angulo’s daughter, Sonja, said she was super proud of her mother. “She works long hours for many years, and then came home and took care of her [two] girls. She’s definitely an amazing teacher. She understands the kids.”

Holder, whose wife, Taylor, teachers kindergarten at South Salem Elementary School, said he hopes “students can leave the classroom better than when they arrived. I learn from them as much as they learn from me.”

“I appreciate the support everyone has shown,” Bagwell said upon hearing the news. “To get this type of recognition reaffirms what I do.”

Bagwell teaches 11th grade American literature and tools for college success, mostly to seniors. “Teenagers are fabulous,” she said. “They are interesting and they teach me something new every day.”

Each of the 23 schools in the district elected a teacher of the year. Each teacher submitted an essay and was interviewed by a panel of judges. Each teacher was selected by his or her peers as Teacher of the Year at the end of the 2014-2015 school year.

The 2016 Newton County Teacher of the Year will be announced during a special ceremony at Newton High School Thursday, Oct. 8 at 4:45 p.m. All 23 Teachers of the Year will be recognized at the reception.

The teacher of the year will receive a crystal vase, three months of a car rental free, and $1,000 check. The winner will represent the Newton County School System in the Georgia Teacher of the Year program.

The two runners up will receive a crystal vase.

The 23 teachers nominated by their schools for teacher of the year are, front row, left to right: Leigh Pickrell, East Newton Elementary; Angie Dean, Fairview Elementary; Allison Norman, Flint Hill Elementary; Donna Thompson, Heard-Mixon Elementary; Tarsha Williams, Live Oak Elementary; Winston Palmer, Livingston Elementary; Vanessa Carter, Mansfield Elementary; Lee Ann Gourlay, Middle Ridge Elementary; Kimberly Wilber, Newton County Theme School; Brittany Temples, Oak Hill Elementary; and Tameka Clark, Porterdale Elementary.