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2018 Georgia Teacher of the Year Finalists announced

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May 18, 2017 – State School Superintendent Richard Woods today announced the finalists for 2018 Georgia Teacher of the Year.

The 10 finalists were chosen from a pool of 150 applicants; all had been previously selected as their school district’s Teacher of the Year. all of whom had been selected as their school district’s 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. The finalists were chosen based on the strength of their essay responses.


“It’s hard to name anything quite so important to a student’s success as the influence of a truly excellent teacher,” Superintendent Woods said. “While we will narrow the list down to a single Georgia Teacher of the Year, every person on this list deserves our respect, admiration, and gratitude. Each of them is a testament to the powerful difference a great teacher can make in the life of a child. I want to offer each of them my sincere congratulations – I look forward to working with them in the months and years to come to ensure our policies at the state level are focused in the right place – on the child.”  

Over the next several weeks, a panel of judges will conduct interviews and observe speeches given by the finalists. The winner will be announced June 12.


The 2018 Georgia Teacher of the Year will travel around the state and the nation, serving as an ambassador for the teaching profession. He or she will also be entered in the National Teacher of the Year competition.

The 2017 Georgia Teacher of the Year is Mr. Casey Bethel, an AP Physics, AP Biology and Physical Science teacher from New Manchester High in Douglasville.


Click here to learn more about the Georgia Teacher of the Year program.


2018 Georgia Teacher of the Year Finalists

Gerald Kosoff, AP Calculus, AP Statistics, KIPP Atlanta Collegiate, Atlanta Public Schools

Dominique Vidal Nichols, World Literature, AP English Literature and Composition, Westside High, Bibb County Schools


Paulette M. Allard, Honors Biology and Forensic Science, Harrison High, Cobb County Schools


Suzette Weinhardt, Mathematics, Accelerated Geometry, Algebra 2, Pre-Calculus, Sandy Creek High, Fayette County Schools


Jamie Lynn McFarland, Grades 3-5 Severe/Profound Intellectual Disabilities, Rock Springs Elementary, Gwinnett County Schools


Susan Donlin, Adapted Curriculum, Marietta Middle, Marietta City Schools


Dr. K. Paige Cole, AP United States Government and U.S. History, North Oconee High, Oconee County Schools


Jonathan Deen, American Government, Dual Enrollment U.S. and World History, Putnam County High, Putnam County Schools


Laura Gerlach, 5th Grade, Furlow Charter School of Sumter County


John R. Tibbetts, Economics, Worth County High, Worth County Schools