Polk County’s educators were on display both locally and on a national stage several teachers got to take a bow for their hard work and trying different ways to inspire a new generation in the classroom.

Northside Elementary teacher Joshua Bearden, who along with Lawana Gurley have headed up the Cedartown DawgBots team and spearheaded new efforts to promote science, technology, engineering, arts and math education in the classroom, was recently granted a big honor from the National Education Association during their gala night held in February.

Bearden was joined by his family, Gurley and Dr. Dorothy Welch all traveled to Washington, D.C. to watch as Bearden be recognized as one of 38 finalists for the California Casualty Award for Teaching Excellence. He received the honor surrounded by educators from around the country during the NEA Foundation’s Salute to Excellence in Education Gala. The California Casualty Awards for Teaching Excellence awardees are nominated by their peers for their dedication to the profession, community engagement, professional development, attention to diversity, and advocacy for fellow educators. He was nominated on the state level due to Welch’s persistence with Georgia Association of Educators executive director and now State Superintendent candidate Sid Chapman, who forwarded Bearden’s name up the chain to the national headquarters.

“I’m so proud of both of them,” Welch said of Bearden and Gurley during a presentation to the Polk County Board of Education’s March regular meeting last week.

Bearden and Gurley both thanked the board, adminitrators and fellow educators for their support, and showed off a photo slideshow of their time in the nation’s capital and also a video presentation of Bearden accepting his award at the gala.

Additionally, the Polk Retired Educators Association were set to hand out their new teacher grant for the year as an award to a new educator who applied for the award and provided the best idea. PREA president Andrea Sorrells was said to announce that educator Tori Montgomery from Eastside Elementary School wasn’t available to accept her award and speak at the board meeting. Instead, she was busy with students on the Rockmart Middle and High School cheerleading teams, who began their spring conditioning period last week. The $500 grant will be used to provide students with the opportunities for more hands-on experience during science classes at Eastside Elementary.