This Monday afternoon was the same as most Monday afternoons for Jenelle Crocker at Johns Creek Elementary School. Crocker was huddled at desks with about a dozen second-grade special education students inside the school’s media center as they completed a lesson on typing.
“Hi, Ms. Crocker.”
Crocker turned around. There was Forsyth County Schools Superintendent Dr. Jeff Bearden, along with Johns Creek principal Alyssa Degliumberto, representatives from the Forsyth County Chamber of Commerce and Andean Chevrolet and other school system personnel.
They had balloons and a bouquet of flowers, as well as an announcement to make: Crocker was a finalist for the school system’s 2020 Teacher of the Year award.
The same scene played out at six other schools across Forsyth County on Monday as Forsyth County Schools announced seven finalists with surprise visits from Bearden and company:
– Jenelle Crocker, media specialist at Johns Creek Elementary School
– Katie Harwood, eighth-grade science teacher at Piney Grove Middle School
– Alex Marbut, special education teacher at Shiloh Point Elementary School
– Dr. Bill Robertson, social studies teacher at West Forsyth High School
– Meghan Street, fourth-grade teacher at Big Creek Elementary School
– Lindsey Tumaliuan, reading teacher at Otwell Middle School
– Jessica Younghouse, English teacher at North Forsyth High School
The finalists were selected from among teachers of the year at each Forsyth County school, which were announced last September. They’ll next go before a committee comprised of community leaders and educators for interviews in mid-February. The winner will be announced at the school system’s “Celebration of Excellence” event on Thursday, March 12, at the Forsyth Conference Center.
“We have almost 3,000 teachers in Forsyth County Schools,” Bearden said to Crocker, “so to be a finalist is just truly an honor.”
Degliumberto told the small group Monday that Crocker goes
“above and beyond” in her role as media specialist, helping students learn
research and technological skills but also leading Johns Creek Elementary’s “7
Mindsets” character education program.
“She has really done a great job trying to make our large school feel small,” Degliumberto said, “and make kids have those great interactions not only with each other but also our staff.”
She added, “We’re so excited for you to be recognized.”
Crocker has been a teacher for 15 years overall and seven at Johns Creek Elementary, including the last four as the school’s media specialist.
It’s a unique role in a school, one that allows Crocker to build relationships with students across grade levels and classrooms. She enjoys watching students develop a love of learning, and she’s gone to great lengths to make sure they do.
Like the time she dressed as a 100-year-old for the 100th day of school.
“I actually borrowed my grandmother’s cane,” Crocker said.
Or the next day, when she came to school as Cruella Deville, the villain from the Disney movie “101 Dalmatians,” to match all the first-graders dressed as the little black-and-white-spotted dogs for the 101st day of school.
“[I] walked around looking insane all day,” Crocker said. “But it’s super-fun.”
Crocker was proud just to have been named the teacher of the year for Johns Creek Elementary, but she knew the finalists were going to be announced this week. She couldn’t help but monitor the school system’s Instagram account throughout the day. She just wasn’t sure if she’d get a visit.
Then Dr. Bearden walked in.“I’m speechless,” Crocker said. “… This is definitely a huge honor.”
2020 Teacher of the Year finalists
A brief look at the seven teachers in Forsyth County Schools selected as finalists for the school system's 2020 Teacher of the Year award. The winner will be announced at the school system’s “Celebration of Excellence” event on Thursday, March 12, at the Forsyth Conference Center.
School: Johns Creek Elementary School
Subject: Media specialist
College: Bachelor’s from Liberty University, master’s from Walden University
Years teaching: 15 overall, seven at Johns Creek
School: Piney Grove Middle School
Subject: Eighth-grade science
College: Bachelor’s from The State University of New York (SUNY) Buffalo, master’s from SUNY Buffalo, specialist’s degree from Valdosta State University
Years teaching: Five overall, three at Piney Grove
School: Shiloh Point Elementary School
Subject: Special education
College: Bachelor’s from University of Georgia, master’s from Georgia Southern University
Years teaching: Eight overall, all at Shiloh Point
School: West Forsyth High School
Subject: Social studies
College: Bachelor’s from Towson State University, master’s from Walden University, doctorate from Walden University
Years teaching: 25 overall, 13 at West Forsyth
School: Big Creek Elementary School
College: Bachelor’s from Georgia State University
Years teaching: Nine overall, four at Big Creek
School: Otwell Middle School
College: Bachelor's from University of Georgia, master's from Georgia Southern University.
Years teaching: Eight overall, all at Otwell
School: North Forsyth High School
College: Bachelor’s from Keene State College, master’s from Piedmont College
Years teaching: 19 overall, 14 in Forsyth County