2023 TOTY Finalists

NCSS Announces Finalists for Teacher of the Year!
Posted on 09/22/2022
Teacher of the Year FinalistsThe Newton County School System and the Newton County Chamber of Commerce are pleased to announce the top three finalists for Newton County’s 2023 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: Mr. Blake Alexander, East Newton Elementary School; Ms. Laura Lambert, Newton College & Career Academy; and Ms. Tiffany Pinnock, West Newton Elementary School.

Newton County School System Superintendent Samantha Fuhrey, school board members Shakila Henderson-Baker, Abigail Coggin, and Trey Bailey, and several central office staff surprised each of the teachers 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 27, 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 2023 Newton County Teacher of the Year during a special ceremony at Newton High School on Thursday, October 6, at 4:45 p.m.


In Alphabetical Order:
Mr. Blake Alexander
Mr. Blake Alexander is a physical education teacher at East Newton Elementary School. He began his career in education at Dowell Elementary School in 2007 as a first-grade teacher before joining the Newton County School System team in 2008 as teacher at Palmer-Stone Elementary School. Mr. Alexander taught both second and third grade at Palmer-Stone before transferring to Flint Hill as a third-grade teacher. He changed specialties and became a physical education teacher at East Newton Elementary School in 2012 and has been teaching at East Newton ever since.

Mr. Alexander earned his bachelor’s degree in Early Childhood Education from Kennesaw State University in 2007 and his Master’s degree in Post-Secondary Education from Troy University in 2009. In 2013, Mr. Alexander obtained his Education Specialist degree in Curriculum and Instruction from Valdosta State University.

“This is a huge shock to me. I can’t believe I’m a finalist,” said Alexander. “Being Teacher of the Year at East Newton was such an honor because I work with the most amazing teachers in the world, I feel like, so to be Teacher of the Year at East Newton was incredible. Then to be named top three—it’s a dream. I’m honored and I really appreciate it.”


Ms. Laura Lambert
Ms. Laura Lambert
is a biology and biotechnology instructor at Newton College and Career Academy. She began her career in education as a chemistry and biology teacher at Monroe Area High School before joining the Newton County School System and Newton College & Career Academy team in 2019. She earned her undergraduate degree in neuroscience from Georgia State University and her master’s degree in Education from Piedmont University in 2017. She also is certified in both Gifted and STEM.

“It’s such a privilege to have been named (a finalist) and I know that I am in good company with the 23 other teachers of the year for the county,” said Lambert. “It’s overwhelming right now but I can appreciate that all of the work that we’ve done this year with our students is being recognized at the county level. I’m really excited and I hope that we all represent Newton County well as we move forward.”


Ms. Tiffany Pinnock
Ms. Tiffany Pinnock
has served as an elementary teacher for the Newton County School System since 2019 when she joined the team at West Newton Elementary School. She currently teachers first grade. Ms. Pinnock previously taught at Idlewood Elementary, The Goddard School, and Learning Time Child Development Center. She began her teaching career in 2007. Ms. Pinnock earned her bachelor’s degree in Child and Family Development from The University of Georgia in 2006 and her Master’s degree in Early Childhood Education from Piedmont University in 2014.

“I feel very honored,” said Pinnock. “I feel overjoyed and I feel a little validated as a teacher and educator that the hard work that I do each day and night for my students has paid off and is being recognized. I feel very responsible to represent the county well and my school and I am really grateful for this opportunity.”

“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 2023 Teacher of the Year program: Truist; Covington Ford; Edgar Law Firm; Ginn Motor Company; Georgia Piedmont Technical College; Hargray; Main Street Land & Properties; Newton College & Career Academy; Nisshinbo Automotive; Qualified Staffing; Sunbelt Builders, Inc.; The Center (Newton County Tomorrow); Bridgestone Golf; Covington Newspaper; High Priority Plumbing; Newton County IDA; Newton County Water & Sewer; Northside; SKC, Inc.; BD; General Mills; Keenan Media; Meta; Newton County; Newton Federal Bank; Piedmont Newton; Snapping Shoals EMC; United Bank of Covington; Universal Planning & Development; Abbey Hospice; AT&T; Beaver Manufacturing; City of Covington; Dualdeko; MAU Workforce Solutions; Oxford College; Pinnacle Bank; SteelCo; Synovus; Takeda; and Tread Technologies (Michelin).

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]

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