Anna Aigner-Muehler spent her entire scholastic career as a Forsyth County student.
She began as a kindergartener at Midway Elementary and graduated as valedictorian of South Forsyth High.
That’s why winning the 2012 Forsyth County Teacher of the Year award brought her to tears Friday during the local school system’s Celebration of Excellence.
“I have deep roots in this system,” she said. “I have deep roots and connections to the teachers who have made me, and I thank them from the bottom of my heart.
“They have created me. They are part of who I am and Forsyth County is part of who I am.”
Aigner-Muehler is the foreign language department chair at Forsyth Central High School, where she teaches German.
She was recently named the 2012 High School Teacher of the Year and was up against Antoinette “Toni” Sullivan and Tracey Heffelfinger, elementary and middle school teachers of the year, for the systemwide honor.
In her essay for the award, Aigner-Muehler wrote that passion is her biggest contribution to work. From someone who persistently avoided a teaching career, Aigner-Muehler said she wouldn’t trade it for anything.
“I’m the girl that can’t figure out what she wants to do when she grows up,” she said in accepting her award. “But I think I figured it out, Mom and Daddy. I think I’ve got it. I’m on a wonderful journey.”
More than 400 educators, education partners and other school district stakeholders attended the event at the Lanier Technical College Forsyth Conference Center.
In addition to its top teacher, the system recognized others for their contributions.
“To these honorees, and to all of our partners in education, we thank you for providing us with a plethora of opportunities to help our students experience success,” said School Superintendent Buster Evans.
“Our appreciation to each of you is even greater than ever due to these continued challenging times.”
Among those honored were: Jim Cheatham, Mentor of the Year; La Cazuela Cantina, Friend of the Year; and Therese Batson, Volunteer of the Year.
Jim N’ Nick’s Bar-B-Q and American Proteins each received the Silver Program, while both Browns Bridge Community Church and Hobby Lobby won the Gold Program.
Lynn Jackson, Northside Hospital-Forsyth administrator, announced the winners of this year’s gold and silver sponsors.
The hospital has been a key sponsor of the event for more than a decade, which is why Evans honored Jackson and the hospital for their contributions.
With help from the Cumming-Forsyth County Chamber of Commerce, the school system has countless Partners in Education.
Whether it’s working with students on marketing projects, employing them through vocational education or sponsoring clubs and events, local businesses offer tremendous support, Evans said.
“Last school year, our partners provided $1.5 million in funding to our schools,” he said. “These funds, in addition to the thousands of volunteer hours and countless in-kind services, have improved student achievement in all subject areas, enriched students’ life experiences, helped grow career opportunities and boosted educator support and morale.”
RBI of Atlanta-North took home the grand prize for Partners in Education, the Don Hendricks Partnership Award.
Presented by Suzanne Hendricks, daughter of the late school board member, the award is the highest honor that a partner can receive.
“This partner believes in education and they believe in this community,” Hendricks said. “These partners have been exemplary in their support and promotion of the success of our students and our teachers.”