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CLINE: Finalists for GCPS Teacher of the Year super indeed

Todd Cline

Todd Cline

It's a headline you usually see in our sports pages, highlighting the top athletes in their respective sports prior to each season. But on Sunday the "Super Six" headline ran on the front page of the paper, a fitting place to recognize the finalists for Gwinnett County Public Schools Teacher of the Year.

An overall winner will be announced at the annual banquet Thursday night, and teachers will also be recognized as tops for high school, middle school and elementary. One of the six women in the running will go home elated, but all should be proud. Like they say during the Academy Awards, it's just an honor to be nominated.

That statement is especially true in a school system as large and talented as Gwinnett's. This group of finalists was culled from an original group of 129, a top teacher selected at every GCPS school. From there 25 semifinalists were selected, and from that group it was narrowed down to the final six:

Sarah Black from North Gwinnett Middle School. Lindsay Cafarella from Peachtree Ridge High. Jennifer Dunn of Pharr Elementary. Keri Beth Tidmore Jones of Dacula Middle. Aundrea Muth of Mill Creek High. And Mulberry Elementary's Brittany Palazzo.

They teach different things at different levels throughout the county but share a dedication to their kids and schools. And their thoughts on teaching, shared in Sunday's article written by education reporter Frank Freddy, showed they are kindred spirits. My favorite quote, and one any employer would be happy to read, is from Black, who helped open North Gwinnett Middle in 2009.

Said the orchestra director: "Being a teacher, I think it's the greatest job in the world and the most important job in the world."

That passion is what makes Black and the other finalists stand out. And standing out in one of the largest school systems in the country is no small feat. It's like the lines written in those sports pages about those other Super Sixes -- if you can be the best in Gwinnett, you can be the best almost anywhere.

In other walks of life I think too many awards are given to the point of watering everything down. (Case in point: both Bill and Hillary Clnton have won Grammy Awards.) But when it comes to teachers, I don't think we can honor or recognize them enough.

Thursday night GCPS will do that with a fitting dinner and ceremony. To the six finalists, congratulations and good luck. And to the rest of you teachers, thanks, and keep up the good work.

Email Todd Cline at todd.cline@gwinnettdailypost.com. His column appears on Wednesdays.