Julie Auten’s students were nearly as excited as she was when the balloon and flower-carrying entourage entered her classroom.
As Silver City’s reigning top teacher, Auten knew the visit from school officials could mean just one thing — she had been selected the Forsyth County Elementary School Teacher of the Year.
“When I can get up every day and go to a job that I absolutely love, what a blessing,” she said. “And then to be recognized for that, what a blessing.”
Silver City was one of three stops for School Superintendent Buster Evans, his staff and Cumming-Forsyth County Chamber of Commerce President and CEO James McCoy.
The group also visited Piney Grove Middle, where media specialist Kristen Deuschle was named Middle School Teacher of the Year, and Lambert High, where Spanish teacher Lisa Robinson was honored.
The three teachers will next undergo classroom observations leading up to the system’s teacher of the year announcement Feb. 14 at the annual Celebration of Excellence.
Deuschle’s announcement at Piney Grove came in front of hundreds of students in the cafeteria.
“I’m just overwhelmed and so excited,” she said. “… It’s such a great group.”
And for the third time in the school’s five-year history, the awards committee honored a Lambert teacher.
“I’m extremely honored,” said Robinson of being named High School Teacher of the Year. “There’s such a great group of teachers here at Lambert and the whole county.”
Robinson, who’s been an educator for more than 20 years has been at Lambert since the school opened.
“She was on our leadership team and she helped us establish the culture of this school and everything that happens here,” said Principal Gary Davison.
After earning a bachelor’s degree in Spanish from the University of Wisconsin, Robinson moved to Madrid, Spain, and began teaching English as a second language. She later returned to the United States, earning a master’s degree from the University of Arizona and specialist’s degree from Lincoln Memorial University.
At Lambert, she helps coordinate and sponsor the drama club and supervises the one-act competition.
“I really just love working with kids, particularly high school kids,” she said. “I think it’s an exciting time in their lives.”
Deuschle has been at Piney Grove for two of her 22 years as a teacher. But during that short time, she’s fallen in love with the place. She credited principal Terri North with giving her flexibility and “the capability to do some extra things for the students.”
“The kids are awesome and I love it when I see that spark in their eyes,” she said. “… There’s nothing I could want to do more than teach.”
Deuschle earned her bachelor’s degree from Olivet College, master’s from North Georgia College & State University and her specialist’s from the University of Georgia. She is an active community volunteer, including working as a therapy dog handler.
Evans said Deuschle has made the school’s media center a “great and exciting place to be.”
“You have done something that has made a huge difference … you’ve really revolutionized the middle school’s media center in such a way that others … elsewhere are looking at.”
Auten is active in the discipleship of youth at her church, as well as providing reading instruction to an elderly adult. She received her bachelor’s degree from West Georgia College, and both her master’s and specialist’s from NGCSU.
Evans told Auten the school district is “blessed that you’re a part of us.” To the students, he said she is a valuable resource and a great instructor who works to “help you be successful in what you do.”
Auten said she entered education because she loves children, but also because of her own childhood.
“Education is the great liberator. It can break barriers,” she said. “I am a child of poverty and it was the liberator for me.”