Casey M. Bethel of New Manchester High School in Douglasville is Georgia’s 2017 teacher of the year.

Georgia’s next teacher of the year chose teaching over medicine

A high school science teacher from Douglasville has been named Georgia’s 2017 teacher of the year.

Casey M. Bethel, an AP physics, AP biology and physical science teacher from New Manchester High, will succeed current teacher of the year Ernest William Lee, II, a high school social studies teacher from Savannah.

Bethel planned to become a surgeon and holds the record for the highest exit exam score for biology majors at his college. He changed his mind about medicine while in graduate school at the University of Georgia’s Center for Applied Genetic Technologies, where he discovered that he enjoyed teaching undergraduates.

“I turned to education, and I never felt so alive,” he wrote in his application for the teacher of the year contest. He has continued researching during the summers with a Georgia Intern Fellowship for Teachers at the Georgia Institute of Technology. He searches for cures for inherited Glaucoma and Alzheimer’s disease. He won the Paul A. Duke award from Georgia Tech for lessons designed and published in The Journal of Chemical Education.

Bethel sponsors a male mentoring club at New Manchester High called Project Manhood. He will represent Georgia teachers in public engagements, and will be entered into the contest for 2017 National Teacher of the Year.

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