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Three top teachers
Finalists picked from nearly 2,700
Evans congratulates Chris Cummo on being named middle school teacher of the year. - photo by Jennifer Sami

Like a scene from a sweepstakes contest, the entourage of school district staff swooped in Tuesday morning carrying balloons, flowers and gifts.

Led by Superintendent Buster Evans, the group surprised Forsyth County’s 2010 Teachers of the Year for the elementary, middle and high school

Evans congratulated Robin Neal, Chris Cummo and Debra Moore at their respective campuses and noted that one of them will be chosen the system’s top teacher.

“And I’ll tell you, all of you are great,” Evans said.

James McCoy, president of the Cumming-Forsyth County Chamber of Commerce, joined Evans as they visited each school. McCoy said the annual surprise is one of his favorite events as a Partner in Education.

“[The educators] are making an impact that I doubt any of them can even imagine and this is just a tiny, tiny way we can recognize them and thank them for being the best of the best,” McCoy said.

The three finalists, chosen from nearly 2,700 teachers, will advance to the next level of competition, classroom observations by a selection committee.

This year’s systemwide honoree will then be chosen by combining the observation score with their marks from a written application and interview process.

The district winner will be announced Feb. 12 during the Annual Celebration of Excellence luncheon at Lambert High School.

Robin Neal - Matt Elementary School

It’s a love of students and her job that brought Robin Neal to tears when she was recognized for her work at Matt.

The feeling is apparently mutual, as her students all clapped with excitement as they heard the news.

Perhaps third-grader Catherine Guenther said it best.

Neal, she said, “teaches me stuff that I don’t know. She is a really good teacher.”

A teacher since 1990, Neal has degrees from Towson State and the University of West Alabama.

Chris Cummo - Liberty Middle School

Chris Cummo couldn’t stop smiling after learning the news. But his wife, Evelyn, may have been more excited.

“He makes me so proud,” she said. “He is so there for his students and he has such a passion for teaching.”

Cummo is an eighth-grade math teacher at Liberty, where his wife also works. A graduate of Florida Southern and North Georgia College & State University, he has taught since 1991.

For Haleigh Barnett, her teacher’s honor was no surprise.

“He is always looking for the best for his students and he is always working his hardest,” she said.

Debra Moore - South Forsyth High School

Debra Moore was “such an easy choice as far as what she has done at the secondary level,” Evans said.

A University of Georgia graduate, Moore has taught since 1991.

Angie Roberts said Moore is more than a marketing education teacher and DECA leader at South, she’s an inspiration.

“She’s always been the go-to teacher if you have a problem or anything,” said Roberts, a senior and four-year student of Moore’s.

“She inspires us and she talks to us on a one-on-one level.”