Carver Elementary fifth-grade teacher Teresa Caldwell has been named to Gov. Nathan Deal’s Education Advisory Board, it was announced Monday.
Caldwell, who was Carver’s Teacher of the Year in 2013, said she is “really excited to be a part of” the council, which will meet four times in 2015 to provide input on education-policy issues affecting the state.
The advisory board is made up of teachers, principals, superintendents and school-board members from each of Georgia’s 13 Congressional districts. Caldwell is one of only a handful selected for the panel from Southeast Georgia, joining Screven County Middle School teacher Nicole Peeples and Wacona Elementary School Principal John Chancey from Ware County Schools. School-board members from the Southeast region are Jane Brown from Camden County and Jenkins County Board of Education member Danny Bennett.
Apart from a handful of educators from Southwest Georgia, the remainder of the board appointees come from North Georgia.
Carver Principal Crystal Morales said Caldwell “is a great teacher and will serve Bryan County and Southeast Georgia well as a member of the advisory board.”
Caldwell said she hopes to bring a local view on education issues to discussions with the advisory board.
“I’m glad to be representing southeast Georgia and bringing that perspective to meetings,” said Caldwell, whose main interests at the policy level include the new state testing guidelines and teacher evaluations.
Georgia is replacing the Criterion-Referenced Competency Test, or CRCT, with the Georgia Measures of Achievement and Progress, or GMAP, which reportedly is set to be given to students at the end of the school year.
Caldwell said while on the governor’s board, she hopes to learn more about GMAP and help analyze results once students have taken the tests. She also feels it important to discuss the state’s teacher evaluation system.
“It’s only in the second year of implementation so it’s pretty new,” Caldwell said. “Teachers have a lot of questions about it. It will be interesting to know Gov. Deal’s perspective on it and what the plan is on teacher evaluations in the future.”
Bryan County Schools Superintendent Dr. Paul Brooksher recommended Caldwell for the board and said she served on his Teachers Advisory Council last year.
“Mrs. Caldwell is a rich resource for her colleagues due to her expertise and willingness to share ideas,” Brooksher said. “She will be a great ambassador for Bryan County Schools … With her commitment to students and the education profession, she will be an asset to the Governor’s Board.”
Caldwell is in her seventh year of teaching at Carver and has a bachelor’s and a master’s degree from Georgia Southern. She said she’s always had a passion for working with kids.
“I always knew I’d be working with kids, and teaching seems to be a great avenue for working with them,” Caldwell said, noting she loves teaching fifth-graders because “at that age, they’re starting to see themselves as part of the world around them.”
“I feel like as a teacher, I’m able to help them connect with what’s going on around them and see themselves as a citizen of our city, our state and our country,” Caldwell said. “As a teacher, I’m helping them realize who they are in the grand scheme of the world.”
In the news release from the governor’s office announcing the appointees, Deal said the boards have been important to him.
“Throughout my term, the members of these advisory boards have provided invaluable feedback on policy issues, including improving the percentage of Georgia’s students reading on grade level by the third grade and encouraging innovation in STEM education,” Deal said. “By listening to those on the frontlines, we can make better policy decisions for our educators and students. I’m grateful to these highly regarded professionals who are giving of their time and talents. Our children are our greatest resource, and I look forward to discussing how we can continue to improve educational outcomes for all.”