Michelle Galanin of Shiloh Point Elementary School was named Special Education Teacher of the Year for the first time and said the award spotlights her students.
Galanin was selected as the winner at the Cumming Civitan Club’s eighth annual Special Education Teacher of the Year banquet, held at the United Way in Cumming.
“It’s very exciting because, for me, it kind of brings a spotlight onto my students, and I work with severely handicapped students who don’t really academically contribute to a school system but they contribute in such a different way; the way they bring out the best in other people,” Galanin said.
Galanin has been at Shiloh Point since the school’s opening in 2006 and said the school community has been great to her students.
“Shiloh Point is just an amazing school; it’s very supportive,” Galanin said. “The way that they value my students, which most of the time are non-ambulatory, which means they don’t walk, and they don’t talk, you would just be shocked if you saw how the rest of the students at Shiloh Point embrace my students. It’s really heart-warming to see how they do that.”
Galanin was announced the winner by Forsyth County Schools Superintendent Jeff Bearden. Other nominees for the award were Little Mill Middle School’s Ashley Millard and Julie Stephens of Lakeside Middle School.
“It really went great,” Galanin said. “The three finalists were able to invite their families, as many as you want really, and had a nice dinner … each one of the principals was able to read their nomination.”
Galanin also thanked Forsyth County Schools, the community and the Civitan Club, which has a focus on helping children and adults with developmental disabilities, for their support of special education.
“Civitan is an amazing group,” Galanin said. “For years, they have provided different activities for my students.”