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2018 Georgia Teacher of the Year named

MEDIA CONTACTMeghan Frick, GaDOE Communications Office,, 404-463-4246

-Follow GaDOE on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram at @GeorgiaDeptofEd. Follow the conversation around the Georgia Teacher of the Year announcement at #GATOTY.

-Read a Q&A with Georgia Teacher of the Year John Tibbetts


June 12, 2017 – John R. Tibbetts, an economics teacher from Worth County High School in Sylvester, is the 2018 Georgia Teacher of the Year, State School Superintendent Richard Woods announced today. As Georgia Teacher of the Year, Tibbetts will serve as an advocate for public education in Georgia.

“I am grateful to Mr. Tibbetts for his service to our country and his service to the students of Georgia, and I’m honored to recognize him as the 2018 Georgia Teacher of the Year,” Superintendent Woods said. “Throughout the application process, it’s been clear that Mr. Tibbetts is both an exemplary teacher and an individual who is concerned, first and foremost, about the success and potential of every student who enters his classroom. I look forward to working with him to tell the story of all the great work taking place in Georgia’s public schools.” 

Tibbetts graduated from the United States Military Academy and went on to serve for 21 years as an officer in the U.S. Army. During his time in the military, he was stationed overseas for more than five years, including service in Desert Storm, Turkey, and Afghanistan.

Following his military service, Tibbetts spent time working in the private sector but ultimately decided to pursue a teaching career– first at Tift County High School and later at Worth County High, where he currently teaches economics.

“As much as any subject taught in high school, economics is part of the very fabric of our daily lives and relevant to what is currently ongoing in the world around us,” he wrote in his Teacher of the Year application. “Teaching economics provides the opportunity to affect our students’ livelihoods, quality of life, and their futures.”

Tibbetts holds a B.S. in Computer Science from the United States Military Academy and a Master of Military Art and Science, Operational Art from the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College, School of Advanced Military Studies. He has served as a presenter at the National Council for History Education (NCHE) National Convention and the NCHE History Colloquium, and is a Teacher Academy for Preparation and Pedagogy (TAPP) Mentor at Worth County High School. In his time away from school, he is active in his church and is a Georgia High School Association (GHSA) certified wrestling referee.

In the classroom, Tibbetts seeks to create a thought-provoking, challenging, and enjoyable academic experience for students. He focuses on hands-on, active-learning activities that allow students to connect with economic concepts through classroom simulations.

“I suspect every teacher has experienced that lightbulb moment in the classroom when one knows the students have engaged and truly understand the material,” Tibbetts wrote in his application. “Last year, I was approached late in the day by an assistant principal who asked, ‘Mr. Tibbetts, what’s with all the paper cups at lunch?’ The lesson that day involved ‘manufacturing’ paper cups from a sheet of paper to demonstrate the concepts behind the Gross Domestic Product. The [assistant principal] reported that senior football players were proudly showing off their newfound skills at lunch to amaze their tablemates by folding a paper cup and demonstrating it would hold milk without spilling a drop. I was as proud as I could be.”

In a Q&A with GaDOE, Tibbetts described great teachers as possessing the following character traits: “Empathy, patience, and a pinch of stubbornness, as well as a healthy sense of humor.”

As Georgia Teacher of the Year, Tibbetts will represent Georgia teachers by speaking to the public about the teaching profession and potentially conducting workshops and programs for educators. He will also participate in the competitive selection process for the 2018 National Teacher of the Year.

Click here to learn more about Georgia’s 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, 2018 Runner-Up, 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, 2018 Georgia Teacher of the Year, Economics, Worth County High, Worth County Schools​