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September 25, 2015

Teacher of the Year Finalists Announced Today


 Amanda Angulo
Indian Creek Middle

 Kristen Bagwell
Alcovy High
  Bo Holder
South Salem Elementary

Click here for a photo album of our surprise visits to our finalists' classrooms!


The Newton County School System and the Newton County Chamber or Commerce are pleased to announce the top three finalists for Newton County School System's 2016 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. Amanda Angulo, Indian Creek Middle School; Ms. Kristen Bagwell, Alcovy High School; and Mr. Bo Holder, South Salem Elementary School.  On Tuesday, September 29, 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 2016 Teacher of the Year during a special ceremony at Newton High School on Thursday, October 8 at 4:45 p.m.

This morning, Newton County School System Superintendent Samantha Fuhrey, Deputy Superintendent Dr. Craig Lockhart, School Board Chair Abigail Coggin, and other central office administrators 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 included in the surprise visits.

In Alphabetical Order:

Ms. Amanda Angulo always wanted to be a teacher but life somehow got in the way. She began a career in a hospital/nursing center in human resources and obtained her Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration from Shorter College in 1997 by attending weekend and night classes. It didn’t take her long, however, to realize that human resources was not the rewarding career she had hoped for. As a result she made an important career change and accepted a job in a middle school clinic in Gwinnet County. She simultaneously began classes at Mercer University and was later hired on a provisional certificate by Newton County Schools in 1997. Her first teaching assignment was at Indian Creek Middle School and she remains there to this day, having earned her Master in Education degree in middle grades science, math, and social studies in 2000. Ms. Angulo has taught social studies, reading, science, and math during her career. This year she teaches seventh-grade science. Ms. Angulo is a member of the Professional Association of Georgia Educators (PAGE).  

In addition to teaching, community service is also very important to Ms. Angulo and as a result, she is actively involved in both the Newton County community where she teaches and in Loganville, where she resides. Ms. Angulo volunteered to coach bot the dance team and step team at Indian Creek Middle School for several years and has also served as a teacher and later coordinator of the school’s ASAP (After School Academic Program) program. She also volunteered her time for the Loganville High School soccer booster club and was the school’s band booster vice-president for two years. For the past five years, Ms. Angulo has also been employed by Impact Counseling to provide much needed counseling to teenagers who have been assigned probation officers. She visits their homes and counsels the teens and their families on conflict management, communication, and life skills. One experience Ms. Angulo found extremely rewarding was being a foster parent. Even though her foster daughter is now an adult, she still considers Ms. Angulo her mom.

“I am very humbled and honored to be selected among the top three finalists,” said Angulo. “I work with an amazingly talented group of teachers at Indian Creek Middle School. “I feel we all make each other better teachers every day.  I thank my students and their families for letting me be a part of their children's lives every day.  I thank my fellow teachers, administrators, my family, and friends for the continued support that makes Indian Creek Middle School and Newton County Schools the only place I can ever imagine myself teaching.”

Ms. Kristen Bagwell also began her teaching career in Newton County. She was hired as a literature teacher at Alcovy High School in 2012 and has worked there ever since. She has taught literature and composition, American literature and composition, SAT Prep, and Tools for College Success at Alcovy. In addition to her teaching duties, Ms. Bagwell has served as the school’s Ninth Grade Literature and Composition Content Leader and later the English Language Arts Department Chair. She was also selected English Language Arts High School Content Specialist for Newton County. She has served as a mentor to new teachers and has also taken on the role of College and Career Readiness Teacher Leader at Alcovy. Ms. Bagwell has also been chosen to participate in the Emerging Leaders Endorsement Program through Griffin RESA.

Ms. Bagwell earned her Bachelor of Arts in English and a Bachelor of Science in English Education from the University of Georgia in 2012. She is on course to complete her Master of Education degree and Reading Endorsement from Georgia Southern University in December.  Ms. Bagwell was a member of the Student Professional Association of Georgia Educators in college and once she began her teaching career became a member of the Professional Association of Georgia Educators.

While attending UGA, Ms. Bagwell learned the importance of giving back to the community through service-learning classes. She tutored and mentored students at an alternative school in Athens-Clarke County, helping them complete courses, develop job skills, and set goals for the future.  She also mentored and tutored children in a mostly Hispanic community through a program at Pinewoods Library. She worked with students in kindergarten and first grade and assisted them with completing their homework assignments, reviewed their daily course work with them, and created enrichment activities to continue their learning. She continued her community service work after college by volunteering to assist the Red Bull’s Global Rally Cross event at Atlanta Motor Speedway. She has also volunteered at Adult Special Education holiday events in the local community and prepared breakfast and snack items for the homeless in Atlanta.

“When I was chosen as the Teacher of the Year for Alcovy, I was honored to represent such a hard-working staff,” said Bagwell. “I genuinely love teaching and my students, and I thoroughly enjoy working with my colleagues and the students at Alcovy. Now, as a one of the Top Three Finalists for NCSS Teacher of the Year, I am overwhelmed with joy, and I am excited to continue this journey and to continue to represent my school and county.”

Mr. Bo Holder is a lifelong citizen of Newton County and after college he came home to begin his teaching career with Newton County Schools. He was hired as a teacher at South Salem Elementary School in 2010 and has been teaching there ever since. Mr. Holder teaches third grade this year but has also taught fourth and fifth grade in previous years.  He has served as lead academic teacher in science and mathematics and currently serves as team leader for his grade level at South Salem.

Mr. Holder earned his Bachelor’s degree in Early Childhood Education from LaGrange College in 2010 and is he is currently working on a Master of Arts degree in Mathematics from Western Governors University.

Serving his hometown community is very important to Mr. Holder and he does so by focusing on the children who live here. He dedicates much of his time to his school’s “How to Be a Gentleman” club. Boys in this club often don’t have an adult male role model in their lives, so Mr. Holder serves in that capacity. The group meets weekly with individual check-ins as needed and at the end of the program, Mr. Holder takes the young boys to a “How to Be a Gentleman” dinner at The Oaks Golf Course, where the students have the opportunity to show off their refined skills in a public setting. In addition to the club, Mr. Holder also created the South Salem tradition of “Tie Tuesday” where all students and staff are invited to wear a tie or in the case of girls, a hair bow, to instill a manner of self-respect, responsibility, and ambition. Although he is an elementary school teacher, Mr. Holder hasn’t limited his volunteer efforts to the younger boys and girls in our community. He previously served as an assistant basketball coach at Newton High as well as head coach of the school’s ninth grade and junior varsity teams. His plan is to continue his efforts to be a role-model for others at his school and in the Newton County community.

“I am deeply humbled, surprised, and grateful for all of the love and support from my South Salem and Newton County family,” said Holder. “I have had the privilege of working with so many outstanding teachers and staff at my school and in this county. There are days where I feel like the best teacher in the world and there are days where I feel like the worst, but the ultimate goal of education is to learn from experiences and try to improve. That is what I have done in my 6-plus years of teaching and that is what I will continue to do.”

The Newton County School System would like to congratulate each of the school Teachers of the Year, as they are each worthy of this special honor. As such, all 23 Teachers of the Year will be recognized at the reception at Newton High School, with the two runners-up each receiving a crystal vase. The 2016 Newton County Teacher of the Year will also receive a crystal vase, a free, three-month car rental from Covington Ford, and a check for $1,000. In addition, this year’s winner will also represent Newton County School System in the Georgia Teacher of the Year program.

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 2016 Teacher of the Year program: AT&T; Bank of North Georgia; BB&T; Beaver Manufacturing; Bridgestone Golf; C.R. Bard; Consolidated Copiers; Great Estates; Covington News; General Mills; Georgia Perimeter College; Georgia Power; Ginn Motor Company; Michelin-Tread Technologies; Newton College & Career Academy; Newton Citizen; Newton County Water & Sewerage Authority; Newton Federal Bank; Newton Medical Center; Pattillo Construction; Pinnacle Bank; SKC, Inc.; Snapping Shoals EMC; Sunbelt Builders; United Bank of Covington; Wagner Services; and TPA Realty.

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