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Casey Bethel Named Douglas County Teacher of the Year back button

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New Manchester High School teacher Casey Bethel was named the 2015-2016 Douglas County Teacher of the Year at the annual Teacher of the Year Recognition Program on October 1, 2015. He will represent the county in the Georgia Teacher of the Year recognition program.

During the event, a teacher from each of 33 schools in the county and the Performance Learning Center was recognized. Additional recognition as semi-finalists was given to eight of the teachers. Three of them were named finalists.

Nick Epstein, P.E. teacher at Dorsett Shoals Elementary School, was named Elementary School Teacher of the Year. Adrienne Griffin, P.E. teacher at Fairplay Middle School, was named the county’s Middle School Teacher of the Year. Teachers named as semi-finalists were: Matthew Nauman, Bill Arp Elementary School; Kimberley Haile, Burnett Elementary School; Meghan Rathel, Holly Springs Elementary School; Thomas Thorne, Yeager Middle School, and Grant Fossum, Douglas County High School.

“Each of the 34 teachers honored is an exceptionally dedicated, knowledgeable and skilled teacher who inspires students to learn,” said Superintendent Dr. Gordon Pritz. “They have the respect and admiration of students, parents and colleagues. These teachers play an active and useful role in the community as well as in our schools.”

Mr. Bethel wanted to be a cardio-vascular surgeon after high school but, deep down, he knew that teaching was his calling and his original medical planned profession left him with a feeling of emptiness. His dreams of becoming a doctor no longer brought him satisfaction. After some thought, Mr. Bethel turned to the education profession and never felt so alive. When he began teaching, he was exhausted every evening, but he couldn’t wait to get to school the next morning for one more chance to inspire the next generation.

Among the gifts Mr. Bethel received are the use of a new car from John Thornton Chevrolet and check in the amount of $1,500 for his personal use from Harrison Merrill, Sr., Foxhall Resort and Sporting Club.

All eight semi-finalists received iPads from Jerry Hall, Assured Comfort Heating, Air and Plumbing along with other gifts from our contributors. Among other gifts, the three finalists received tablets from Dell Computers and $500 for their personal use from Harrison Merrill, Sr., Foxhall Resort and Sporting Club.

Mr. Bethel began his teaching career in 2005 in the DeKalb County School System before coming to New Manchester High School in 2013. He stated, “I read recently that what we do for ourselves dies with us, what we do for others lives on.” For him, sharing his gifts is the best way to make a difference in the present and to influence the future. His students are products of his teaching and he wants to produce students who are well-rounded, life-long learners, who appreciate knowledge and who are prepared for both colleges and careers.

The Douglas County Teacher of the Year selection process began with each school selecting a teacher to represent their school in the program. The selected teachers then completed a detailed application form and submitted it to the Community Relations Office. A committee of 18 people spent many hours reading applications. The top eight teachers were selected from the group - (two each from the middle and high school level and four from the elementary school level). The next step in the selection process was a 30-minute classroom observation of each semi-finalist teaching in their classroom.

The committee reported that they enjoyed the visits and would have liked to have been able to spend more time in these outstanding teachers' classrooms. Admiration was expressed for all eight of these outstanding educators. The committee interviewed all eight semi-finalists before deciding on the level honorees (elementary, middle and high school) and the overall Douglas County Teacher of the Year.

Selection committee members included community members and educators. They are: Rocky Clay, Edward Jones; Lynne Cole, Education Funding Partners; Wiley Dailey, Douglas County School System; Rodney Davis, Print Design Promote; Amy Dobbs, 2014-2015 Douglas County and Elementary School Teacher of the Year; Angie Holland, MembersFirst Credit Union; Tonya Jackson, RA-LIN and Associates; TJ Jaglinski, Douglas County Communications and Community Relations; Sarah Leach, 2014-2015 Douglas County Teacher of the Year; Kascia Lipford, Beyond The Front Porch; Steve McFall, Central Baptist Church; Rueben Pitts, 2014-2015 Middle School Teacher of the Year; Lyndsey Sargent, Douglasville Douglas County Water and Sewer Authority; Brenda Spain, Retired Douglas County School System employee; Christine Stanley, Design Solutions Group, Inc.; Sabrina Starr, Hungry Howie’s Pizza; and Vonda Thorpe, TA Productions.

Honored as Teacher of the Year from their schools were: Natalie Young, Alexander High School; Julie King, Annette Winn Elementary School; Heather Walker, Arbor Station Elementary School; Nadra Hamilton, Beulah Elementary School; Matthew Nauman, Bill Arp Elementary School; Pam Huey, Bright Star Elementary School; Kimberley Haile, Burnett Elementary School; Heather Wilkie, Chapel Hill Elementary School; Sandy Smith, Chapel Hill High School; Carrin Daniels, Chapel Hill Middle School; Pamela Corley, Chestnut Log Middle School; Nick Epstein, Dorsett Shoals Elementary School; Grant Fossum, Douglas County High School; Nicole Smith-Hall, Eastside Elementary School; Radiance Lewis, Factory Shoals Elementary School; Alisa Allen, Factory Shoals Middle School; Adrienne Griffin, Fairplay Middle School; Meghan Rathel, Holly Springs Elementary School; Ngoc Le, Lithia Springs Elementary School; Dr. Robin Simmons, Lithia Springs High School; Cynthia Grantham, Mason Creek Elementary School; Kim Scasny, Mason Creek Middle School; Stephanie Alvers, Mirror Lake Elementary School; Chris Watts, Mt. Carmel Elementary School; Shalanda Watts New Manchester Elementary School; Casey Bethel, New Manchester High School; Jami Brooks, North Douglas Elementary School; Michelle Carney, Douglas County Performance Learning Center; Shelley Smith, South Douglas Elementary School; Shemeria Claxton, Stewart Middle School; Amanda Kirk, Sweetwater Elementary School; April Olorunfemi, Turner Middle School; Tabitha Antonovich, Winston Elementary School; and Thomas Thorne, Yeager Middle School.

The Douglas County Teacher of the Year Recognition Program is made possible by the support of the local business community. We encourage the community to patronize these businesses and thank them for their support of education in Douglas County. A list of supporters are as follows: All Print Marking and Media; Ann’s Florist; Atlanta Dream; Assured Comgort Heating, Air and Plumbing; Atlanta’s Finest Catering; AutoBuff’s Car Wash; B&S Pest Control; Barnes and Noble, Newnan; Bath By Baldwin; Bojangles’; Buffalo Wild Wings; Burke’s Grill; Cactus Car Wash; Chapel Hill News and Views; Chapel Hills Golf Club; Central Baptist Church; Chick-fil-A Fairburn Road, Highway 5 and Thornton Road; Coca-Cola Company; Community Bean Coffee; Dell Computers; Design Solutions Group; Douglas County Chamber of Commerce; Douglas County Sentinel; Douglasville Convention and Visitors Bureau; Edible Arrangements; Eisenstein Orthodontics; Fast Frame Expert Picture Framing; Foxhall Resort and Sporting Club; Georgia’s Own Credit Union; Gold’s Gym; GreyStone Power Corporation; Halcyon Day Spa; Hightower’s Memorial Chapel; Hungry Howie’s Pizza; J. Clay Salon; Joe’s Crab Shack; John Thornton Chevrolet; Jones Wynn Funeral Home and Crematory; Kidney Office Products; Kroger; Laser Dimensions Engraving Services; Liftouch National School Photography; Lithia Springs Pharmacy; Logan’s Roadhouse; Make-A-Cake Cupcake Bar; Martin’s Restaurants; Mary Kay, Ngozi Ojukwu; MembersFirst Credit Union; Merle Norman; Mill Town Music Hall; Monterrey Mexican Restaurant; Office Depot; Office Max; Primerica; Primrose School at Brookmont; Print Design Promote; Public Education Trust; Publix; Rodan and Fields, Jennifer Baker; Racetrac; Sam and Rosco’s; Sarah’s Angels; Sea Breeze Seafood Restaurant; Serenity Nail; Shane’s Rib Shack; Something More Than Ordinary; Stevi B’s Pizza Buffet; Texas Roadhouse; The Flower Cottage and Gifts, LLC; The Trophy Den; TUOIA The Frame Shop with A Twist; Walmart Thornton Road; Wenck Travel; West Georgia Family Dentistry, Dr. Eric Leithner; Yogli Mogli Frozen Yogurt; and Zen Massage.

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