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Pepperell Middle's Pollitz named finalist for 2014 Georgia Teacher of the Year

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Pepperell Middle's Pollitz named finalist for 2014 Georgia Teacher of the Year

Teacher Shannon Pollitz works with students Jenna McCollum (from left), Brooklyn Blansit, Erin Dwyer and Jordan Purser (contributed photo).

Shannon Pollitz was dancing Monday in the Old Post Office in Washington, D.C., when she learned she was a finalist for the 2014 Georgia Teacher of the Year.

Click here to read a story about Pollitz being named Floyd County Schools' teacher of the year.

Pollitz, Floyd County Schools’ teacher of the year, was with a group from Pepperell Middle School touring the nation’s capital. Looking down to a lower level, Pollitz saw several people from her school filming her. She’d been making videos throughout the trip, and she thought her group was joining in.

“I started dancing,” Pollitz said. “Then 40 of them or something yell, ‘Congratulations, Mrs. Pollitz, Teacher of the Year finalist!’”

The 12-year teaching veteran is one of 10 finalists from across Georgia in the running for the state-wide teacher of the year award. The finalists will be interviewed and evaluated by a team of judges. They must also prepare a speech for a spring luncheon. The 2014 Georgia Teacher of the Year will be announced in May.

The Teacher of the Year usually takes a year off from teaching and works with the state’s Department of Education. He or she speaks to groups across the state, works with other teachers in his or her field and attends state conferences.

Pollitz, 34, teaches a gifted language arts class for eighth-graders at Pepperell Middle. She said her curriculum is one that encourages student-centered learning. Her most recent unit focused on utopias and dystopias.

“It’s highly interactive,” Pollitz said of her classes. “I encourage students to critically think. I really feel like God created me to do this job.”

Both of Pollitz’s parents were teachers, and both were either Teachers of the Year for their school or the county.

A Rome native, Pollitz attended the University of Georgia before returning to Floyd County to teach. She began teaching in 2001 at Model Middle School. She then taught middle school students in Morocco, returning to Georgia after a year.

Her year abroad affected Pollitz, and she makes a point of exposing her students to the world.

“There is more out there,” she said. “We spend a lot of time thinking outside our comfort zone.”

Tim Hensley, assistant to Superintendent Jeff Mc Daniel, said Pollitz was the second Floyd County schools teacher in two years to make the statewide finals. Alana Ellenburg, a teacher at Pepperell High School, was a finalist last year.

“It means we have some excellent teachers that teach for us,” Hensley said. “It’s a credit to our teachers and their training.”

2014 Georgia Teacher of the Year Finalists (in alphabetical order by district) Teacher, Subject, System, School

Tamika N. Ball, Mathematics

Atlanta Public Schools, D.M. Therrell School of Health Sciences and Research

Brandon A. Mitchell, Physical and Environmental Science

Barrow County, Winder-Barrow High

Jemelleh Coes, English Language Arts and Reading

Bulloch County, Langston Chapel Middle

Terrie L. Ponder, Social Studies

Carrollton City, Carrollton Junior High

Jeanine Wetherington, Gifted K-5

Colquitt County, Norman Park Elementary

Shannon Pollitz, Eighth Grade Gifted English Language Arts

Floyd County, Pepperell Middle

Barbara Rosolino, English Language Arts, AP Literature and Composition

Henry County, Eagle’s Landing High

David DuBose, Advanced Music, Band and Instrumental Music

Marietta City, Marietta High

Dr. Polly S. Holder, Spanish

Walton County, Walnut Grove High

Tanya Smith, Physical Science and Gifted/Accelerated Chemistry

Wayne County, Wayne County High

The Georgia Teacher of the Year Program is sponsored by United Healthcare.

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