Anthony Johnson, an English language arts instructor at Midway Middle School, was chosen as the Liberty County School System’s Teacher of the Year during a banquet Thursday evening at Bradwell Institute.
Johnson was chosen out of 15 teachers — one from each school in the district — by an outside committee. Next, he will compete against teachers from other school districts for the title of Georgia Teacher of the Year.
“This moment is so much bigger than me,” Johnson said during his acceptance speech. “This moment is for my grandmother who never had the opportunity to attend college because she labored to move all eight of her children from poverty to promise. This moment is for the four little girls who perished in the Birmingham church bombings in 1963. This moment is for the students of Sandy Hook Elementary School. This moment is for my Daddy, who survived countless deployments and time to put all of his children through college. I stand in humility knowing that God’s plan is so much bigger than me.”
He then addressed Superintendent Dr. Valya Lee.
“Dr. Lee, I vow, promise you, to represent this county with grace and integrity and honor,” Johnson said. “Friends, I sincerely ask you that you remember me in your prayers. If I don’t pull every statistic right, pray for me. If I come across as being too passionate, just jump on board. It has not been and will never be about me. It’s always about the children. We must rise to the occasion and push them from just being average to being well-able. We must push them from doing just enough to more than enough. We must push them from thinking, ‘I don’t know if I can,’ to, ‘What’s next for me to accomplish?’”
Midway Middle Principal Debra Frazier said Johnson has the ability to make his students feel good about themselves, and she would let him teach her child because he makes a lasting impression.
Mary Alexander, the district’s chief human resource officer, presented Johnson with a diamond plaque and a MacBook Air computer donated by Staymobile, which repairs mobile devices and computers.
After the banquet, Johnson said, “This means more than words can say. To be chosen by my peers and represent them for the betterment of our children means the world to me. I vow to do all that I can in order to bring education back to the place that it should be — that is in the forefront. I’m most humbled by this.”
The theme for the banquet was “A Night of Enchantment.” The cafeteria was transformed into a chic venue, with hanging fabric and the BI band providing music for most of the evening. The nominated teachers were escorted into the cafeteria, then Board of Education Chairwoman Lily Baker and Hinesville Mayor Jim Thomas gave greetings.
There was a musical selection by Lisa Chaney, accompanied by Jeremiah Gilbert on piano. Gilbert is a Liberty County High School student who is proficient in piano and plays football.
After dinner, there was a video presentation on all the nominated teachers, which consisted of students and school personnel explaining why the teacher for their specific school should be selected to represent the school system. They expressed their reasons creatively through songs, skits, dance, TV show parodies, raps and photos.
The teachers nominated for 2017 LCSS Teacher of the Year were:
• Rachael Cisco, Button Gwinnett Elementary
• Jennifer White, Bradwell Institute
• Zuleika Black, Frank Long Elementary
• Deborah Dubinsky, Horizons Learning Center
• Renesia Jenkins, Joseph Martin Elementary
• Pamela Scott, Liberty College and Career Academy
• Yvonne Lambert, Liberty County High School
• David Wasdin, Liberty Elementary
• Loraine Bush, Lewis Frasier Middle School
• Lily Bezalel, Lyman Hall Elementary School
• Chasity Crane, Pre-K Center
• Sadie Boone, Snelson-Golden Middle School
• Sara Spurlin, Taylors Creek Elementary School
• Brenda Addie, Waldo Pafford Elementary School.