More than 4,000 miles from the place of his birth, and four short years after becoming a high school teacher, Jonas Strecker, German teacher at South Forsyth High School sat surrounded by a sea of people gathered in recognition of what he has spent his whole life dedicated to; teaching.
And when Strecker, took the stage amid thunderous applause from his peers and community leaders, he became the 2018 Forsyth County Teacher of the Year.
“To me, teaching is not just a profession. It’s also not a vocation as it is sometimes called. For me it is a lifestyle,” Strecker said.
“To be quite honest, I always thought a teacher of the year award was somewhat silly, because how can you choose one teacher from one school, let alone from a whole county. There are so many talented and dedicated teachers in this room, that I really don’t know how people can compare one to another,” he said.
Strecker and his fellow nominees were among dozens of teachers, volunteers and organizations honored on March 9 at the 2018 Celebration of Excellence, held in a packed hall of the Lanier Technical College Forsyth Conference Center.
After receiving his award, Strecker spoke to the audience about the bond that he has formed with fellow nominees Becky Morris and Julie Stephens throughout the past few months while waiting for the formal teacher of the year announcement.
In his speech to the audience, Strecker quoted South Forsyth High School Principal Laura Wilson saying, “Becky doesn’t really teach language arts in third grade, and Julie doesn’t teach Special Ed in middle school and I don’t teach German in high school … we all teach children.”
Aside from the overall teacher of the year recognition, 36 other teachers were recognized during the celebration, one from each of the elementary, middle and high schools in Forsyth County.
The 20 teachers, the semi-finalists, were recognized by the school system. After observations and evaluations, that number was narrowed to three teachers; Morris from Shiloh Point Elementary, Stephens from Lakeside Middle, and Strecker from South Forsyth.
In early February, Forsyth County School Superintendent Jeff Bearden led a group from the community to each of the three chosen teacher’s classroom to present them with balloons and flowers.
In his closing remarks at the event, Bearden said to the crowd, “Many of you have heard me say before that the best schools and the best school systems are the ones where home, school and community work together as partner. I can’t think of any other school district that is more blessed than ours.”
As part of his Forsyth County Teacher of the Year award, Strecker will also represent the district in the Georgia Teacher of the Year program, and will be eligible to advance to the national level.
During the event, Strecker thanked his family, peers and students, saying that without them he would not have made it as far as he did.
“A great teacher can only be a great teacher, if he or she has great students. If none of my students had learned German over the past four years, I wouldn’t be standing here right now,” he said.
“I certainly do not claim to be the best teacher in this room, but I do claim that I have the best students.”
Strecker was also presented with the lease to a brand new Chevrolet Equinox by Andean Chevrolet for his award.