Catrice Allen, a fifth-grade teacher at Taylor Elementary, is considered the best of the best.
Bibb County interim Superintendent Steven Smith announced Allen as the 2014 Bibb County Teacher of the Year at Mercer Universitys University Center on Thursday.
The banquet program included a dinner, music by the Central High School Strings Ensemble and a speech by the 2013 Bibb County Teacher of the Year, Katie Wall from Westside High School.
There were six other finalists for Teacher of the Year who were also recognized at the banquet. They were Jessica Brown from Sonny Carter Elementary School, Dana Goshorn from Howard Middle School, Brittany Austin from Riley Elementary School, Hema Keerthi from Rutland High School, Rosalyn Wiley-Tobler from Rutland Middle School and Robert Shepherd Jr. from L.H. Williams Elementary School.
The finalists walked across a stage to receive a plaque and handshake from Smith, and their work was highlighted in a video presentation.
In the video, Principal Susan Simpson, of Taylor Elementary, spoke about what made Allen special.
Mrs. Allens strongest qualities are the rigor that she has in her standards of teaching students and the relationship she builds with her parents, her teachers and other peers, Simpson said.
Allen said she learned to love teaching as a volunteer at a middle school during her first year of college.
She has been teaching in Bibb County for seven years, according to a Bibb County school district news release.
A lot of my students have been unsuccessful for many years, and they come into my room thinking they are going to be unsuccessful again. I have to change that mindset, Allen said in the banquet video. I think its important that we celebrate successes, however small.
After Smith made the announcement, Allen said she was shocked that she won.
Dana Goshorn, of Howard Middle School, was named runner-up for District Teacher of the Year.
Before handing out the award, Smith spoke about the teachers that made a difference in his life.
Nobody realizes this, but all of us are products of teachers, Smith said. Anybody that has achieved anything in life can thank a teacher for that accomplishment because thats where it all begins.
The selection process used by Bibb County is the same that the state Department of Education uses to choose the state Teacher of the Year.
Each school in the district selected a Teacher of the Year, then the 40 teachers selected moved on to the district level where the seven finalists were chosen.
Last year, only five finalists were chosen, but there was such keen competition that we couldnt narrow it to five, Smith said.
To determine the Teacher of the Year, an outside panel of judges made up of former teachers and administrators interviewed each candidate, who filled out a lengthy application packet, Smith said.
The emcee for the night, Anthony Jones, of Rutland High School, pointed out that there are 1,614 certified teachers in the district, and the 40 best, including the seven finalists, were honored at the banquet.
To contact writer Andres David Lopez, call 744-4382.