Metro Atlanta districts name teachers of the year

Teachers will participate in the statewide contest
Jenna Cloninger was named Gwinnett County's teacher of the year. She teached oceanography at Central Gwinnett High School.

Credit: Courtesy photo

Credit: Courtesy photo

Jenna Cloninger was named Gwinnett County's teacher of the year. She teached oceanography at Central Gwinnett High School.

The newly named teacher of the year in Georgia’s largest public school district encouraged struggling teachers to focus not on the “chaos and the politics and the criticism that sometimes surrounds teaching,” but to think first of the students.

“Your students need you, with your kind heart and your sense of humor and your creativity,” said Jenna Cloninger, an oceanography teacher at Central Gwinnett High School. “Your students need you, even with your wrinkled shirt and your mismatched socks on your third cup of coffee because you show up for them every single day.”

Gwinnett County Public Schools named Cloninger its top teacher at a ceremony Thursday night and honored all its teachers who received the teacher of the year award at their respective schools.

Cloninger has taught in Gwinnett for five years after previously working at Zoo Atlanta and the Georgia Aquarium. She said she was glad for her work in a niche content area to be recognized and hoped that encouraged her peers in similar classrooms.

“In the world of education where high stakes testing in the core subject areas often takes the spotlight, it’s easy for teachers of electives and other special interest areas to sometimes feel invisible,” Cloninger said. “I’m grateful for this opportunity to shine a light on the importance of ocean conservation and marine science.”

The following teachers have received the top award in metro Atlanta’s largest school districts:

  • Atlanta Public Schools: Taylor Richardson, a fifth grade teacher at Burgess Peterson Elementary School
  • Clayton County Public Schools: Daisha Taylor, a fifth grade math and science teacher at Church Street Elementary School
  • Cobb County School District: Elizabeth Goff, an English to speakers of other languages teacher at Bells Ferry Elementary School
  • DeKalb County School District: Kristen Jones, a fifth grade teacher at DeKalb Elementary School of the Arts
  • Forsyth County Schools: Morgan O’Leary, a first grader teacher at New Hope Elementary School
  • Fulton County Schools: Elise Kreitner, a special education teacher at Autrey Mill Middle School

District level teachers of the year will be evaluated in a state-wide contest.

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