Rebecca Carlisle, an AP World History teacher at North Gwinnett High School, won the Teacher of the Year award for Gwinnett County Public Schools.
Photo: Gwinnett County Public Schools
Photo: Gwinnett County Public Schools

History teacher wins Gwinnett Teacher of the Year award

North Gwinnett High School teacher Rebecca Carlisle has been named Gwinnett County Public Schools’ teacher of the year.

Carlisle, five teacher of the year finalists and 133 local teachers of the year were celebrated at a banquet Thursday night at the Infinite Energy Center in Duluth. Teachers, administrators and school board members gathered at the event to celebrate excellence in teaching.

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When Superintendent Alvin Wilbanks announced Carlisle’s name, her head fell to her hands. After long hugs with her husband and parents, she took the stage with tears of joy and disbelief.

“I don’t know what else to say except I feel like a fraud and I am overwhelmed with a sense of gratitude and responsibility,” Carlisle said. 

Carlisle has been a teacher for 10 years and has spent her entire career with Gwinnett County Public Schools. She began as a Georgia and World History teacher at Pinckneyville Middle School before moving to her current role as an AP World History teacher at North Gwinnett in 2014.

Finding her purpose and “why” as an educator motivates Carlisle to help her students discover their own “why” in the subject matter, Carlisle said in a district press release.

“When I spend more time with a student working through an AP (advanced) concept or when I work with a new teacher to develop a lesson plan, my personal feelings of being overwhelmed with stress quickly transform into being overwhelmed with gratitude and renewed passion because I am anchored in my purpose, or my ‘why,’ which is always to invest in others, to truly see others and to help others be successful, as so many have done for me,” Carlisle said.

Carlisle remains engaged in the school community after class; she’s served as a cheerleading coach and academic coach for the basketball team, and sponsored multiple clubs, the district said in a release.

Carlisle was selected from thousands of educators in the district to receive the honor. Runners-up for the award include Vivarine Argilagos of Lovin Elementary School, the 2020 elementary school teacher of the year, and Brad Zickefoose of Radloff Middle School, the 2020 middle school teacher of the year. Before receiving the award Thursday, Carlisle had also been named high school teacher of the year. Amber M. Simmons of Brookwood High School, Ellen Hill of Dyer Elementary School and Anthony Dramis of Hull Middle School were also finalists for the teacher of the year award.

Along with the award, Carlisle will receive an annual bonus of $1,000 for as long as she works for Gwinnett County Public Schools and the use of a new car for a year. She will also receive a new laptop, a crystal peach, a commemorative ring, a $500 grocery store gift card and a gift basket. Argilagos and Zickefoose will receive $750 annual bonuses, and Simmons, Dramis and Hill will receive one-time $500 bonuses. All five finalists will also receive $250 grocery store gift cards and gift baskets.

Each of Gwinnett’s 139 schools named a teacher of the year to be nominated for the district-wide award. All local school winners will receive one-time $200 bonuses, plaques and a “teacher of the year cup.” Now, Carlisle will compete for the Georgia Teacher of the Year award, which will likely be given in the late spring.

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Just like she has for the past 27 years, Martha Strickland showed up to work in the school cafeteria Tuesday morning.

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