By Dr. Melinda Dennis
Dodge County school superintendent
The Eastman Rotary Club, in conjunction with the Dodge County School System, announced the 2016-2017 Teacher of the Year at their meeting on Friday, April 15, 2016.
The nominees were introduced and their many accomplishments read by the principals of the respective schools. Teacher of the Year plaques were presented to each nominee. The nominees included: Wendi Camp, Dodge County High School Teacher of the Year. She graduated from the University of West Georgia in 2006 with a B.A. in French and obtained her M.Ed. in 2009 from Georgia College and State University. Mrs. Camp has been teaching at Dodge County High School since 2006 and is currently teaching French. She believes her greatest accomplishments in teaching include bringing cultural awareness to her students and instilling the importance of a positive and optimistic attitude. Mrs. Camp quoted French novelist Marcel Proust, “The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeing new lands but in seeing with new eyes.” Mrs. Camp stated in her philosophy of teaching that she believes in holding high expectations for each of her students, as well as giving them the knowledge on how to achieve the expectations she sets for them. She also believes that in order to hold high expectations for her students, she must also hold high expectations for herself as a teacher and be willing to go the extra mile to help students who are struggling.
Dr. Melinda Dennis named Camp Dodge County System Teacher of the Year. She is a model of optimism and positive attitude, hard work and determination and has created a classroom culture that is safe-haven, inviting students to take risks in their acquisition of knowledge. She wants students to realize their true potential and sets high expectations for both herself and her students. She is a continuous learner and has taken it upon herself to visit students who are homebound or hospitalized so they don’t fall behind. She utilizes email to keep her parents informed of student progress and to provide study tips.
Camp also realizes that a student’s home life influences school behavior and achievement. She quotes Nicholas Ferroni: “Students who are loved at home, come to school to learn, and students who aren’t, come to school to be loved.” She reminds herself of this as she attempts to truly know and understand her individual students.
In a letter of reference, a former student stated: This teacher “uses all of her experiences to help teach her students greater life lessons. She taught me that it is okay to get knocked down as long as I put everything I have into getting back up. She taught me that success isn’t always getting the right answer, or being the best, but rather, that success is learning from mistakes and improving from there.” Aren’t these the real life lesson we want all our children to learn?
Not only is this teacher dedicated to her professional life, she is also very involved with church activities and even volunteers in a neighboring school district when our school days don’t align.
Rachel Godfrey Spires, Dodge Pre-K Teacher of the Year. Spires graduated from Georgia Southwestern State University in 2011 with her B.S. in Early Childhood Education. She worked as a kindergarten paraprofessional at North Dodge Elementary for a year and a half before joining the faculty of Dodge Pre-K as a teacher. Spires says that watching her students get excited about something they have learned is what she enjoys most about teaching. Her philosophy of teaching is that her students should feel that it is “my” classroom and not Mrs. Spires’ classroom. Her personal goal is to make every child want to come to school every day.
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