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UPDATED: HHS's Marion Hanahan named Teacher of the Year
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Marion Hanahan, center, reacts as he realizes he was selected 2011 Teacher of the Year. Finalists Don Swaney, left, and Dianne Hall, right applaud him. - photo by Michelle Kim

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Heritage’s generational teaching excellence was in the spotlight Tuesday night as HHS history teacher Marion Hanahan won 2011 Rockdale County Teacher of the Year. His mother Peggy Hanahan is also a history teacher at Heritage and was the 2010 Teacher of the Year for the school.

“I was blown away,” said the 30-year-old University of Alabama graduate afterwards. He said he was relaxed coming into the ceremony because he didn't think he would be giving his speech at all. 

Hanahan’s mother Peggy said she was tearing up after hearing his name. “It just makes a mother proud,” she said.

HHS Principal Greg Fowler described him as a teacher who could teach any student. 

“I can assign any student to Marion Hanahan's US History classes and I know they will learn and love the class in the process,” said Fowler, also a University of Alabama alum.

When they met, Hanahan was teaching at Salem High School.

“I knew he was going to be good but I thought it might take some time,” Fowler said. “Marion's US History students' scores beat Heritage's students scores those first few years, and then I decided to do something all of the Crimson Tide faithful call ‘recruiting’…  I said if we can't beat him, we will steal him.”

In his acceptance speech, Hanahan described being inspired by history teachers he had and sitting in class realizing this was something he could do. He initially fought the realization because he was expected to do other things with his life. His mother was already a history teacher, and he quipped that it would be that much harder to compete with the business and pre-med majors for girls on campus. 

He also noted the impact becoming a Christian and being a member of his church, Christ Community Church, had in the past year of his life.

The 2009 Rockdale County Teacher of the Year Caroline Ingle, also a Heritage teacher and daughter of another Rockdale County Teacher of the Year, had missed the 2010 TOTY ceremony while receiving treatment for leukemia and gave her speech this year instead. She said in those months of isolation, the deepest longing of her heart was to return to the classroom. 

All the Teachers of the Year received gift baskets, filled with prizes donated by local businesses. 

As part of his gift basket, Hanahan will also receive a weekend retreat at the King and Prince Resort on St. Simon’s island and a substitute on any Friday to help him get a head start on that vacation weekend.

Hanahan will move onto apply for the state Teacher of the Year competition, which will announce its winner in May 2012.



(Nov. 8, 7 p.m.) IN BRIEF: Marion Hanahan, history teacher at Heritage High, was named the 2011 Rockdale County Teacher of the Year. He is the son of Peggy Hanahan, also a history teacher at Heritage and the Heritage 2010 Teacher of the Year.

"I was blown away," he said afterwards.

HHS Principal Greg Fowler described him as a teacher who could be given any student and they would succeed.

Check back later for the full story.