LAWRENCEVILLE - Two Gwinnett County teachers received state awards for their dedication to their students and contributions to foreign language education.
Christy Belbey of Dacula High was named the Georgia High School French Teacher of the Year and Sanja Knezovic of Parkview High was named the Georgia German Teacher of the Year. The accolades were presented by the American Association of Teachers of French and the American Association of Teachers of German, respectively.
"I was so humbled to have been chosen," said Belbey, who began her teaching career at Dacula High in 1994. "There are so many good French teachers in this state."
Belbey was a member of the second graduating class of Shiloh High. She has a master's degree in applied linguistics and second language pedagogy from Georgia State University and has studied at Université de Montréal.
Knezovic, a native of Bosnia, moved to the United States in 2000. She wanted to become a teacher but never imagined she could become the state's best.
"When I found out about the award, I was surprised and very happy," said Knezovic, who teaches several levels of German at Parkview High. "After eight years of teaching, I can say that this is the best profession for me."
Knezovic began working for Gwinnett County Public Schools in 2001. She has bachelor's degrees in German and German literature, as well as English and American/British literature. She is fluent in English, German and Bosnian and speaks conversational Russian and Latin.
Earlier this year, David Jahner, the school system's director of foreign languages, was honored with the National Association of District Supervisors of Foreign Language/Pearson Supervisor of the Year Award for his continuous record of excellence.
"We have a very strong foreign language program, as evidenced by the many awards won by Mr. Jahner and our teachers," school district spokeswoman Sloan Roach said. "Further evidence of the strength of our foreign language instruction is the honors our students win every year. Without fail, every year we have students ... who really excel in this area. That says a lot about the teachers and the work they do."