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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 2013 Teacher of the Year award.


After reading essays submitted by each of the school system’s 22 Teachers of the Year, a panel of five 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. Whitney Jackson, Veterans Memorial Middle School; Ms. Kim Malcom, South Salem Elementary School; and Ms. Julie Thompson, East Newton Elementary School.  On Tuesday, October 9, 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 2013 Teacher of the Year during a special ceremony at Newton High School on Thursday, October 25 at 4:45 p.m.

This morning, Newton County School System Superintendent Dr. Gary Mathews; Deputy Superintendent Dr. Dennis Carpenter; Ms. Nyree Sanders, Director of Human Resources; and Ms. Sherri Davis-Viniard, Director of Public Relations 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.

Ms. Whitney Jackson began her teaching career at Veterans Memorial Middle School in Newton County Schools in 2006. She currently teaches sixth grade math. She earned her bachelor’s degree in business management from North Georgia College and State University in 2003 and her master’s in education degree in college student affairs administration from the University of Georgia in 2006. She earned her teacher certification in special education from Armstrong Atlantic University in 2010. She is a member of the Professional Association of Georgia Educators and the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics.

Ms. Jackson is committed to community service so much that she created and sponsors Girls Engaged in Meaningful Service, (G.E.M.S.), an all girls’ middle school service organization which happens to be the most active organization at Veterans Memorial Middle School. The girls organize an annual canned food drive in which over 3,000 items are donated each year. They also participate in fundraising efforts through an annual Penny War for Pennies for Patients sponsored by the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. Each year the club donates approximately $2,500 for the cause. The club has also donated funds to the Garden of Gethsemane homeless shelter and organized a Family Fun Night for foster families in Newton County. In addition to her work with G.E.M.S., Ms. Jackson also works with students in the after school program, where she teaches Leadership Development.

In addition to her community service work with students, Ms. Jackson also serves as the co-chair of the Veterans Memorial Middle School Relay for Life team, teaches children’s church on Sunday mornings, financially supports two individuals’ volunteer efforts in Haiti, financially supports the United Way, and volunteers with Spring Ministries, Inc., a single parent ministry.

“Being selected as one of the top 3 finalist for Newton County Teacher of the Year is one of the highest honors I have received,” said Jackson. “It is a pleasure to serve the county in which I was born and raised. I would like to dedicate this honor to my students, fellow staff members at VMMS and my family and friends who have supported me over the years.”

Ms. Kimberly Malcom began her career in education at Fairview Elementary School in 2006. In 2008 she transferred to South Salem Elementary School, where she has served and continues to serve as a special education teacher.

Ms. Malcom earned her bachelor’s degree in sociology from Emory University in 2005 and in 2009 she achieved certification from the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards. She serves as a member of the South Salem Building Leadership Team (BLT), holds the position of grade chair for the special education team, and is also the special education contact person for the school. In addition, Ms. Malcom serves as a mentor teacher for new teachers to assist them as they adapt to life in the classroom

Community involvement and service to others is very important to Ms. Malcom and she is very involved in Newton County Relay for Life. Eleven years ago her family formed a team in memory of her uncle and in honor of her aunt and Ms. Malcom has served as team captain and played an active role ever since. She also routinely sponsors “Old and New Friends Get-Togethers” several times throughout the year to bring together past and present students and parents from her seven years of teaching. The goal is to form friendships, discuss issues, and provide an opportunity for parents of students with disabilities to socialize and communicate with other families who understand the daily struggles and excitements of living with a child with a disability.

"Being a teacher is my love and passion,” said Malcom. “This is an incredible honor for my students and I, one that we will never forget."

Ms. Julie Thompson began her teaching career at East Newton Elementary school in 2001 and she has been there ever since. Although she started out as a third grade teacher, she now teaches fourth-grade at the school.

Ms. Thompson earned her bachelor’s degree in early childhood education from Shorter College in 2001 and her master’s degree in early childhood education from Piedmont College in 2003. She earned an education specialist’s degree in elementary education from the University of Georgia in 2006 and also holds gifted certification.

When not in the classroom, Ms. Thompson is busy serving on committees such as school council and leadership team. She is also serves as grade level chair. In addition, Ms. Thompson is also East Newton’s Teacher Leader for the Learning Focused Schools and Keys to Quality programs, a role that requires her to attend monthly meetings on instructional strategies and then redeliver that information to her fellow teachers and assist them in their implementation within the classroom. She has even been selected to write lesson plans for the county’s reading teachers. Ms. Thompson also serves as a mentor teacher to new teachers in the district’s BEST program and works with student teachers and local high school students through the job shadow program.

In addition to volunteering at school, Ms. Thompson also volunteers time in the community by participating in charitable causes such as Relay for Life, working in her church’s Vacation Bible School, and serving as juror commissioner for Newton County.

“I was honored and humbled to be chosen by my peers as Teacher of the Year for East Newton,” said Thompson. “My only wish has been to represent them well. Now, as one of the top three finalists, I am truly overwhelmed. This is an accomplishment that would not be possible without the support of my family, my friends, and my students.”

The Newton County School System would like to congratulate each of the Teachers of the Year, as they are all worthy of this special honor. As such, all 22 Teachers of the Year will be recognized at the NCSS Teacher of the Year Reception at Newton High School on October 25 at 4:45 p.m. Each of the district’s three finalists will receive crystal vase awards. The 2013 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 2013 Teacher of the Year program: Honda of Conyers; Bank of North Georgia; Charter Business, Contract Packaging, Inc.; General Mills; The Covington News; Ginn Motor Company; Snapping Shoals, EMC; Apollo Staffing; Current Events Productions; Integrated Power Solutions; Newton Federal Bank; SKC, Inc.; BB&T; Pattillo; Wagner Service Solutions;  TPA Realty Services; United Bank of Covington; Georgia Piedmont Technical College; at&t; Bridgestone Golf; Beyond Exterminating; Beaver Manufacturing Company; Newton Citizen; Georgia Power; Newton Medical Center; Triple Horse; Pinnacle Bank; Sunbelt Builders; Tread Technologies Company; Georgia Perimeter College; and The Oaks. 

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