2021 TOTY Finalists

NCSS Announces Top 3 Finalists for District Teacher of the Year
Posted on 09/16/2021
Top three finalists head shotsThe Newton County School System and the Newton County Chamber of Commerce are pleased to announce the top three finalists for Newton County’s 2022 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. Samantha Greco, West Newton Elementary School; Mr. Clayton Hammonds, Veterans Memorial Middle School; and Ms. DeAnna O’Brien, Eastside High School.

Newton County School System Superintendent Samantha Fuhrey surprised each of the finalists with flowers and balloons at school on Thursday to make the special announcement that they were finalists for Newton County Teacher of the Year. Family members of the teachers were also included in the surprise visits.

On Tuesday, September 21, the Teacher of the Year selection committee will observe each of the three finalists teach in the classroom setting. The person with the highest combined score on the essay, interview, and observation will be announced as the 2022 Newton County Teacher of the Year during a special ceremony at Newton High School on Thursday, September 30 at 4:45 p.m.

In Alphabetical Order:

GrecoMs. Samantha Greco is a fifth-grade teacher at West Newton Elementary School. She began her teaching career at West Newton in 2007 and has been teaching fourth and fifth grade at the school ever since. Ms. Greco earned her Bachelor of Arts in Spanish from the Defense Language Institute in 1998 and her Bachelor of Arts in Biblical Education from Beaulah Heights University in 2007. Ms. Greco also holds a gifted endorsement.

“Being named a finalist for Teacher of the Year is an honor,” said Ms. Greco. “I have loved and lived in Newton County for years. I have been here in the county school system for almost 15 years. To be able to represent Newton County is an honor because these are our future leaders. To be able to pour into them on a daily basis is a dream and Newton County has offered that opportunity to me for the last 15 years.”

HammondsMr. Clayton Hammonds is a sixth-grade science teacher at Veterans Memorial Middle School A graduate of Newton High School, he joined the Newton County School System team in 2018 at Veterans Memorial and has been teaching science at the school ever since. He previously taught at Valdosta Middle School for one year. Mr. Hammonds earned his Bachelor of Science in Middle Grades Education from Valdosta State in 2017 and his Master in Education from Walden University in 2019. He is on track to earn his Education Specialist in Teacher Leadership from Thomas University in 2023.

“I am speechless,” said Hammonds when he was informed that he was a finalist for Teacher of the Year. “I think it’s amazing and it’s an honor and I feel honored. I just come in here and do what I do. I didn’t really think people were noticing but apparently they do. I just have no words.”

O'BrienMs. DeAnna O’Brien is a special education teacher at Eastside High School. She previously taught in both Morgan County and Rockdale County School System. Ms. O’Brien also taught hospital bound patients with traumatic brain injuries at Scottish Rite Children’s Hospital. She earned her Bachelor of Science in Special Education from Georgia Southern in 1995 and is currently working on her Master’s in Education from the same institution.

“I just want to say how honored I am to be selected as a finalist for Newton County School System’s Teacher of the Year,” said O’Brien. “The people that I work with here at Eastside and all of my fellow teachers here in Newton County are amazing, amazing teachers and I just want to say thank you for recognizing the work that we all do and thank you for recognizing the successes of our students because that is what makes all of us teachers of the year.”

“It always gives me great pleasure to recognize and honor our outstanding teachers of the year,” said Samantha Fuhrey, superintendent of Newton County School System! “To have been selected as one of the top three candidates is certainly an exceptional honor. Congratulations to each of these extraordinary educators! Individually and collectively, they represent all that is special with regard to teaching and learning. I am proud of their dedication, expertise, and creativity, as each of them impact their students far greater than they know.”

Newton County’s Teacher of the Year program would not be possible without 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 2022 Teacher of the Year program: Abbey Hospice; AT&T; BB&T; Beaver Manufacturing; Bridgestone Golf; BD; City of Covington; Covington Ford; The Covington News; Facebook; General Mills; GPTC; Ginn Motor Company; High Priority Plumbing; MAU; Newton County Government; Newton Federal Bank; Newton County Water & Sewer; Nisshinbo Automotive; Northside; Oxford College; Piedmont Newton; Pinnacle Bank; Qualified Staffing; SKC, Inc.; Snapping Shoals EMC; SteelCo; Sunbelt Builders, Inc.; Synovus; Takeda; Tread Technologies (Michelin); United Bank of Covington; The Center; Newton College & Career Academy; Edgar Law Firm, and Newton County IDA.

For more information on the Newton County School System Teacher of the Year program, contact Ms. Sherri Partee, Director of Public Relations for Newton County Schools at [email protected].