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The Newton County School System and the Newton County Chamber of Commerce are pleased to announce the top three finalists for Newton County’s 2015 Teacher of the Year award.


After reading essays submitted by each of the school system’s 23 Teachers of the Year, a panel of judges spent two days interviewing each of the teachers. The three candidates earning the highest point totals and thus entering the final round of the judging are, in alphabetical order: Ms. Heather Fuller, Newton College & Career Academy; Mr. Kenneth Hanson, Indian Creek Middle; and Ms. Chris Williams, Newton High.  On Tuesday, October 7, the Teacher of the Year selection committee will observe each of the three finalists in their classroom and the teacher with the highest combined score on the essay, interview, and observation will be announced as the 2015 Teacher of the Year during a special ceremony at Newton High School on Thursday, October 16 at 4:45 p.m.

This morning, Newton County School System Superintendent Samantha Fuhrey, Deputy Superintendent Dr. Craig Lockhart, other central office administrators and school board members surprised each of the finalists with flowers and balloons in their classrooms to make the special announcement to the teachers that they were one of the top three finalists. Friends and family members of the three finalists were also invited to join in on the surprise visits.

In Alphabetical Order:

Ms. Heather Fuller--Newton College & Career Academy

Ms. Heather Fuller began her teaching career at Veterans Memorial Middle School as a social studies teacher in 2008 and she has been teaching for Newton County Schools ever since. She later taught social studies at Indian Creek Middle School and marketing and economics at Alcovy High School before joining the teaching staff at the Newton College and Career Academy. She is currently the Career Academy’s marketing teacher.  

Ms. Fuller earned her Bachelor of Science degree in workforce education from the University of Georgia in 2007 and her Master of Arts degree in teaching from Grand Canyon University in 2009. She is currently working on her education specialist degree in teacher leadership at Kennesaw State University. Ms. Fuller is a member of several professional organizations, including the American Marketing Association, Georgia Marketing Educators Association, and the Association for Career and Technical Education.

Ms. Fuller has also been very active in the Newton County community through her position at school. She has spearheaded several community service projects at her school, including the United Way, the American Cancer Society, Toys for Tots, and even the adoption of a family in need during the holidays.  She is currently working on a campaign to create awareness for childhood literacy where children’s books are collected and then read to preschool students.

"I am truly thankful for this opportunity," said Fuller. "The highest form of flattery that someone can give you is to trust you with their children. Everyday I wake up I am given the honor and monumental task of providing our future leaders with the necessary skills to thrive in an ever changing society. I am humbled by this experience. To even be considered and placed in the same category, among this distinguished group of educators, is life changing."

Mr. Kenneth Hanson-Indian Creek Middle School

Mr. Kenneth Hanson also began his teaching career in Newton County Schools. He was hired as a history teacher at Indian Creek Middle School in 2007 and has been teaching there ever since. He currently teaches social studies (7th grade world history).

Mr. Hanson earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in history from Georgia State University in 2006 and his master’s degree in social science from Western Governors University in 2010. He is currently pursuing an education specialist degree in curriculum and instruction at Kennesaw State University.  Mr. Hanson is currently a social studies content leader for Newton County School System and has also served as a mentor for new teachers.

Mr. Hanson is very active in his local community, having participated in programs such as Hands on Atlanta and Clark Howard’s Habitat for Humanity each year. He has organized and conducted youth summer camps each summer and also volunteers his time to feed the homeless and visit nursing homes to spread joy. Mr. Hanson is also very active in his local church.

"Being nominated as one of the finalist for the Newton County School System teacher of the year is one of the highlights of my career," said Hanson. "This is an accomplishment that I share with my personal family and my Indian Creek family (my administrators, colleagues, and students) that together we can achieve our goals and make a difference in each other's lives." 

 Ms. Chris Williams-Newton High School

Ms. Chris Williams began her teaching career as a middle school science teacher in Tift County Schools in 2006. She then transferred to Valdosta City Schools before joining the Newton County School System as a high school physical science and biology teacher in 2010.

Ms. Williams earned her Bachelor of Science degree in education with a concentration in middle grades education from Valdosta State University in 2005. She is currently working on her master’s degree in STEM education from Nova Southeastern University.  Ms. Williams has participated in numerous professional development activities sponsored by Valdosta State University and Georgia Tech and has even served on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Science Ambassadors Program. She is a member of the National Science Teachers Association and serves on the Newton High School Positive Behaviors Interventions and Supports Team.

Community service is very important to Ms. Williams—so much so that while she was in college, she worked hard for four years to re-charter and establish at Valdosta State University, Alpha Phi Omega, a service fraternity dedicated to leadership, friendship, and service. She has also helped her community through Relay for Life and served as a member of the Academic Service Learning Team—an organization dedicated to the promotion of academic success through volunteer service. Through her work with Academic Service Learning, Ms. Williams put in over 300 hours of service and as a result received both the silver and gold Presidential Volunteer Service awards.

"As a finalist for the teacher of the year I am both shocked and humbled by this honor," said Williams. "I truly love teaching and all that I learn from my students.  I believe that everyone has a calling and teaching just happens to be mine.  My hope is that I can inspire my students to find their calling and become successful productive citizens."

The Newton County School System and the Newton County Chamber of Commerce would like to congratulate each of the three finalists as well as all 23 school level teachers of the year, as they are all worthy of this special honor. As such, all Teachers of the Year will be recognized at the NCSS Teacher of the Year Reception at Newton High School on October 16 at 4:45 p.m. Each of the district’s three finalists will receive crystal vase awards. The 2015 Newton County Teacher of the Year will also receive one dozen roses, three months free car rental from Covington Ford, and a check for $1,000 from the Newton County Chamber of Commerce. In addition, this year’s winner will also represent Newton County School System in the Georgia Teacher of the Year competition.

Newton County’s Teacher of the Year program would not be possible if it were not for the support of our community. As a result, the Newton County School System and the Newton County Chamber of Commerce would like to extend special thanks to the Chamber Champions, sponsors of the 2015 Teacher of the Year program: General Mills; Ginn Motors; Covington News; Apollo Staffing; Newton Medical Center; Bank of North Georgia; United Bank of Covington; SKC, Inc.; BB&T; Pattillo; Snapping Shoals EMC; Newton County Water and Sewerage Authority; Kelly Products; TPA Realty Services; Wagner Service Solutions; Tread Technologies Company; Newton Citizen; AT&T; Georgia Power; Newton Federal Bank; Beaver Manufacturing; Pinnacle Bank; Consolidated Copier Services; Pratt Industries; Bard; Newton College & Career Academy; The Center; Bridgestone Golf; and Choate Construction.

For more information on the Newton County School System Teacher of the Year program, contact Ms. Sherri Davis-Viniard, Director of Public Relations for Newton County Schools at 770-784-2908.