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2013 Georgia Teacher of the Year Named

Lauren Eckman from the Georgia Academy for the Blind Selected


MEDIA CONTACT: Matt Cardoza, GaDOE Communications Office, (404) 651-7358, or Keisha Ford-Jenrette Excellence Recognition Office, (404) 657-2949,

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June 1, 2012 – Lauren Eckman, an English Language Arts teacher from the Georgia Academy for the Blind (GAB),  one of three State Schools, has been named the 2013 Georgia Teacher of the Year.
Ms. Eckman was named the winner of the award at the annual Georgia Teacher of the Year banquet held at the Georgia International Convention Center. As Georgia Teacher of the Year, Ms. Eckman will serve as an advocate for public education in Georgia.
"Lauren Eckman is going to be a fantastic representative of the teaching profession in Georgia," said State School Superintendent Dr. John Barge. “With the population of students she serves, she is highly proficient at differentiating instruction and making strong connections with her students. These will be valuable skills to share with other educators throughout the state.”
After student teaching for three months at the Georgia Academy for the Blind, Ms. Eckman decided her calling was with the students at the GAB. After her graduation, she applied for a teaching position at the Academy and has been there since 2004.
In her application, Ms. Eckman stated, "During my teaching career, I have learned that my success as an educator can and should be measured by the success of my students; thus, I believe that my greatest accomplishment has been assisting my students to attain high levels of achievement.”
Ms. Eckman has had an incredible 100% pass rate on the Georgia High School Graduation Writing Test for seven out of the eight years she’s been at the Georgia Academy for the Blind. Several of her students have graduated from college with honors, worked toward Master’s degrees, attended technical school programs, and become gainfully employed.  All of these are remarkable accomplishments since it is statistically rare for students with visual impairments to go to college or be employed.
As Georgia Teacher of the Year, Ms. Eckman will represent Georgia teachers by speaking to the public about the teaching profession and possibly conducting workshops and programs for educators. She will also compete for the 2013 National Teacher of the Year.
Teacher of the Year 2013.jpg
There were 151 district teachers of the year who submitted applications to become the 2013 Georgia Teacher of the Year. The applications were read by a panel of judges that included teachers, past Georgia Teacher of the Year winners and finalists, administrators, community leaders and others. Ten finalists were chosen based on the strength of his or her essay responses.
A panel of judges that included Jadun McCarthy, the 2012 Georgia Teacher of the Year, conducted video observations and interviews. The ten finalists then gave speeches at the annual Teacher of the Year luncheon, which was sponsored by Georgia Power.
2013 Georgia Teacher of the Year Finalists (in alphabetical order by district)
Teacher, Subject, System and School
Elisha R. Gray, Severe Intellectual Disabilities
Atlanta Public Schools, Maynard Holbrook Jackson High School
Charles Trader, Mathematics
Camden County, Saint Marys Middle School
Jaslyn Dukes, Reading
Douglas County, J.W. Stewart Middle School
Alana Ellenburg, High School 101 & First Aid/Safety
Floyd County, Pepperell High School
Shelby Ann Steinhauer, French
Fulton County, Milton High School
Sara Taylor, Pre-K Self-contained Special Education
Liberty County, Liberty County Pre-K Center
Dr. Andy Felt, Chemistry & Physical Science
Madison County, Madison County High School
Allison Konter, AP United States Government & Politics, Government, Psychology and Sociology
Savannah-Chatham County, Islands High School
Lauren Eckman, English Language Arts
State Schools, Georgia Academy for the Blind
Billie Jo Diehl, Special Education
White County, White County Intermediate School
The title sponsor of the Georgia Teacher of the Year program is United Healthcare. United Healthcare also gave Apple iPads to all the finalists and spa gift bags to all district winners.
Georgia Natural Gas TrueBlue Schools gave a Kindle Touch to each of the finalists as well as gift bags to the district winners.
Georgia Aquarium gave tickets to all the district teachers to the Georgia Aquarium as well as 50 tickets to take their students.
Blue Bell Creameries provided ice cream parties for all the finalists’ schools. Blue Bell also served ice cream at the Teacher of the Year reception.
Cash Donations were given by:
Georgia Association of Educators
Georgia Power
Professional Association of Georgia Educators
The Coca-Cola Company
Partnership for Excellence in Education
Georgia Teachers of the Year Association
In-Kind sponsors: 
SMART Technologies.
The School Box, Inc.
Peachtree Supplies
Keith Plaques


No state funds were used for the Teacher of the Year banquet. It was paid for through private donations and ticket sales.