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Magnet teacher chosen as Star94 'Teachers Make a Difference' award winner
Chuck Garner-STAR-teacher-2012-2013
Dr. Chuck Garner

Dr. Chuck Garner, math teacher at Rockdale Magnet School for Science and Technology, was chosen from more than 400 nominees as one of the top five "Teachers Make a Difference" Award Winners by Georgia United Credit Union & Star94 Radio. He'll be honored in a special luncheon Tuesday.

Garner said, "My favorite part of teaching is the moment a person understands something they once thought incomprehensible; the look on the person's face is a mix of joy, surprise, and realization. I live for that!"

Former student Aqib Momin had this to say about Dr. Garner: "A teacher like Dr. Garner is rare - one that truly changes the portrayal of a teacher and completely dedicates themselves to their subject and, despite being at what most would consider the peak, constantly tries to improve so that the students can too. For me, Dr. Garner has ignited a candle in a previously dark room, and in the process, vastly brightened my future. I will never be able to thank him enough for that."

Magnet senior Zack York, who had tried to nominate Garner last year for a national award and helped nominate him this year for the Star94 award. said he's been taking Garner's classes for the last two years. He credits the dedicated teacher with turning around his view and his performance on exams. "He's the one that got me on the math team... Before, I hated math. Now I love it."

More than 400 names were submitted in recognition of a teacher who has made a difference in your life. From those responses, Georgia United Credit Union and Star94 Radio selected the top five winners, each of whom will be recognized with a reception and lunch at their school supplied by Jimmy John's during the week of May 6-10. Each Top Five teacher will also receive a $500 cash prize and a $250 prize for their school; one Grand Prize winner will also be awarded a $2,000 scholarship towards his or her Continuing Education studies.

Garner, now a 19-year veteran of teaching, said "I chose teaching in 1994 because I needed a job so my wife could have the time to obtain her graduate degree. As it turned out, I really liked it, and I have never looked back!"

He has taught single and multi-variable calculus, linear algebra, the history of math, mathematical problem-solving, and precalculus at Rockdale Magnet School since August 2001. He was a middle school teacher for seven years before coming to the Magnet school.

Other awards and distinguishments include being selected by the STAR student (the student with the top SAT/ACT score in the school) as STAR Teacher 10 times, recieving the Excellence in Teaching Mathematics Award for Georgia in 2003 from the Georgia Council of Teachers of Mathematics, being named the Teacher of the Year for Rockdale Magnet School in 2007, recieving the Dwight Love Award from GCTM in 2010 for 'distinguished service to the field of mathematics education," and being named the MIT Inspirational Teacher Award in 2011.

He sponsors the Varsity and Junior Varsity divisions of the Rockdale Magnet Math Team, earning classification state champions for nine of the last 10 years. He is one of six coaches for the state-wide Georgia American Regions Mathematics League team, which is comprised of the 45 best mathematics students in the state who then compete at the world-wide ARML tournament in June. The Georgia team has placed in the top 15 for 22 of the last 23 years.

He is also the author of six books, including a two-volume calculus text, more than a dozen articles, and originated and wrote the curricula for two courses for Georgia high schools, the History of Mathematics and Multivariable Calculus.

Garner, a husband and father of two, received his B.S., M.S., and Ph.D., all in mathematics, in 1994, 2000, and 2004.

The grand prize winner will be announced Friday, May 10 from these top five outstanding teachers:

• Chris Cummo, 7th grade science, Liberty Middle School, Cumming, Forsyth County
• Georgianna Hendrickson, Kindergarten, Vanderlyn School, DeKalb County
• Dr. Chuck Garner, Pre-Calculus, Rockdale Magnet School for Science & Technology, Conyers, Rockdale County
• Lisa Smith, Business Education, Sonoraville High School, Calhoun, Gordon County
• Audrey Hughes, 6th-8th science, Hilsman Middle School, Athens, Clarke County

One of the 10 runners up, listed below, will also be named a Star Choice Award Winner on May 10, depending on the votes submitted for each teacher. That winner will receive $500 cash and an ice cream party for their class. The remaining nine candidates will receive "Teachers Make a Difference" gift bags and VISA gift cards.

Debra Bryan, 7th grade, Davis Middle School, Conyers, Rockdale County
• Kimberly Campbell, 1st grade, Arnold Mill School, Woodstock, Cherokee County
• Kevin Cown, 8th grade Language Arts, Autry Mill Middle School, Johns Creek - Fulton County
• Roy George, Electrical Engineering, Wheeler High School, Marietta - Cobb County
• Otha Hall, 11th grade American History, East Laurens High School, Dexter - Laurens County
• Avis Holbrook, 2nd grade, Dunwoody Elementary School, Dunwoody - DeKalb County
• Dr. Robert Lawrence, Director of Bands, Clarke Central High School, Athens - Clarke County
• Heather MacKenzie, 8th grade Language Arts, Eagles Landing Middle School - Henry County
• Klare McKee, Discovery (gifted) 1st-5th grades, Dunwoody Elementary School - DeKalb County
• Tracy Mooney, Career Tech, North Forsyth High School, Cumming - Forsyth County