Music teacher honored as Gwinnett's best in '06

DULUTH - Tiffany English, a music teacher at Sugar Hill Elementary School, was named Thursday evening as Gwinnett's 2007 Teacher of the Year.

"I can't wait to tell my kids; they're going to freak out," English said as she accepted the award. "(The children are) what it's all about. ... I want my students to be tuneful and beautiful and artful and a complete child."

English, 34, has said she believes music can be used to help children learn to process, analyze and evaluate information.

"I try to use my music lessons to teach children a truly meaningful musical concept that they can carry with them into other areas," English said. "And, conversely, I teach my music lessons so that children can see how the arts truly are reflected in all areas of study."

English will represent Gwinnett County in the state Teacher of the Year competition. The state winner will be announced next year.

Two other teachers were chosen to represent their respective grade levels within in the county.

Dana Griffith, a physical education teacher at Berkmar Middle School, was chosen as the Middle School Teacher of the Year, and Matthew Winking, a mathematics teacher at Phoenix High School, was chosen as the High School Teacher of the Year.

Griffith, 35, said being chosen to represent Berkmar Middle School was "tremendously exciting."

"To represent all middle schools is downright overwhelming," she said.

Griffith has said she tries to keep all of her students engaged in her lessons by keeping them active.

"If everyone always has something to do, the better the lesson is going to go," she said.

Griffith has also worked to provide a track and a fitness center at Berkmar Middle, and she wrote and implemented a "middle school fitness portfolio."

Winking, 35, said the effects of teaching are eternal.

"You never know how far your influence is going to reach," Winking said.

Winking has said he strives to teach his students the practical applications of mathematics.

"The majority of teacher lectures will be forgotten at some point," Winking said. "Most teacher demonstrations will eventually be lost, but a student-focused investigation will be remembered because the student was involved and engaged."

As the school system's winner, English will receive prizes that include a $1,000 bonus each year she continues to teach in Gwinnett County, the use of a new car for three months, a ring and a laptop computer.

Griffith and Winking will receive a $750 bonus each year they continue to teach in Gwinnett County.

The other finalists - Cindy Apley Rose of Shiloh Middle School, Sarah Skinner of Peachtree Ridge High School and Charles Kachmar of Grayson High School - received a one-time award of $500.

Each of the 105 school winners was honored Thursday with a placard and a one-time $200 award.