The Georgia Teacher of the Year (GaTOTY) program strives to promote and retain quality teachers. The GaTOTY serves as an ambassador for education, traveling the state speaking to various educators and community groups. The GaTOTY also competes in the National Teacher of the Year Program, representing Georgia at several national conferences with other State Teachers of the Year. District Teachers of the Year are provided professional development and honored at a state recognition banquet. In a surprise announcement, the GaTOTY is named from a pool of ten finalists at the state recognition banquet.
All local education agency (LEA) superintendents are responsible for selecting the local system Teacher of the Year, but may appoint a person to oversee this project and an outside committee to interview, observe, and select the system’s representative. The
questions asked in the Georgia TOTY Application parallel the questions for the
National TOTY program. It is suggested that participating systems use the same
Narrative Response questions contained in the Georgia application when
conducting the selection process within their systems. Local
system superintendents may nominate a representative to participate in the
selection process for Georgia Teacher of the Year.
Qualifications for the Georgia Teacher of the Year
The candidate for Georgia Teacher of the Year should be:
The current local education agency (LEA) Teacher of the Year.
A full-time, certified classroom teacher (clear and renewable certificate) with at least three years of experience in public prekindergarten through grade 12, including special education, physical education, art, music, media specialists and ROTC teachers. (Counselors
are not eligible for the state or national TOTY.)
A teacher that spends the majority of their
time teaching students in a classroom setting. (Supervisory and administrative responsibilities should be of secondary
An exceptionally dedicated, knowledgeable, and skilled teacher who is planning to continue in active classroom teaching status for the duration of the award period.
A teacher who inspires students of all backgrounds and abilities to learn.
A teacher who has the respect and admiration of students, parents, and colleagues.
A teacher who plays an active and useful role in the community as well as in the school.
A teacher who is poised and articulate and possesses the energy to withstand a taxing schedule.
A teacher who has the ability and desire to be an articulate spokesperson for
Georgia public education.
Selection Process for the Georgia Teacher of the Year
The State School Superintendent is responsible for selecting the Georgia Teacher of the Year and has appointed the Excellence Recognition Unit to oversee this project and to select the state’s representative. The Georgia Department of Education does not discriminate against any person or group in the selection of candidates for the program on the basis of race, religion, sex, national origin, handicap, or educational affiliation.
Each local education system (LEA) nominee submits an application packet that is based on the National Teacher of the Year Program application. A
panel of respected educators from across the state are chosen to assess the applications, based on candidate responses and supporting documents, to
narrow the field to ten finalists. Finalist prepare a presentation on a provided topic and participant in an interview process with a panel of judges. The selection process
culminates with a luncheon to honor the ten finalists. The winner is confidentially selected by the judges panel and announced during the Teacher of the Year recognition banquet held in May.
Duties of the Georgia Teacher of the Year
The Georgia Teacher of the Year, an educational ambassador for the Georgia Public School System, acts as a representative for all Georgia public school teachers and as an advocate for the school systems, its students, and its teachers. The GaTOTY’s numerous engagements include recognition before the Georgia House and Senate during the session of the General Assembly and participation on the Georgia State Board of Education as a non-voting member.
The GaTOTY typically takes a one-year sabbatical working directly with the Georgia Department of Education. During this time the GaTOTY speaks to various groups throughout the state. This teacher representative also conducts staff development activities for other teachers in his or her area of expertise; serves on statewide committees; and attends and participates in numerous state conferences.
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