2024 NCSS TOTY Finalists

NCSS Announces Top 3 Finalists for Newton County Teacher of the Year
Posted on 09/14/2023
Three finalists for Teacher of the YearThe Newton County School System and the Newton County Chamber of Commerce are pleased to announce the top three finalists for Newton County’s 2024 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. Jenica Brittingham, Alcovy High School; Dr. Cecily Gunter, Newton College & Career Academy; and Ms. Kimberly Ralston, Livingston Elementary School.

Newton County School System Interim Superintendent Benjamin Roundtree, 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 19, 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 2024 Newton County Teacher of the Year during a special ceremony at Newton High School on Thursday, September 28, at 4:45 p.m.

In Alphabetical Order:

Ms. Jenica Brittingham has served as the Theatre Fine Arts instructor at Alcovy Hich School since she joined the Newton County School System team in 2019. She previously taught in the Putnam County School System, Georgia and in the state of Illinois. Ms. Brittingham also served as an Honors English and Theater teacher at Shanghai High School International Division, in Shanghai, China for five years. She earned her Bachelor of Arts in English Education and Theatre from Millikin University and her Master of Arts in Theatre Education from the University of Northern Colorado. Ms. Brittingham is also certified to teach English as a foreign language.

“I’m honestly super, super surprised and shocked,” said Brittingham after learning she was a finalist. “I wasn’t expecting this at all. It’s pretty amazing, incredible and exciting…It’s great to be named Teacher of the Year at Alcovy and now a finalist for Newton County.”

Dr. Cecily Gunter has taught agricultural education at Newton College & Career Academy since 2017. She began her career in education when she joined the Newton County School System team as an agriculture teacher at Alcovy High School in 2012. She earned her Bachelor of Science & Arts degree in Agricultural Education from the University of Georgia and her Master’s Degree in Agricultural Education from Murray State University. In 2021, Gunter earned her Doctor of Education degree in P20 and Community Leadership, also from Murray State University. She is currently in the process of earning additional certifications in Educational Leadership and Teacher Leader Endorsement.

“This is a huge honor,” said Dr. Gunter. “I’m really excited. There’s a lot of really great ag teachers and regular teachers in the county and I’m just excited to represent the Career Academy and see what we can accomplish. I’m really excited about it.”

Ms. Kimberly Ralston has taught first or second grade at Livingston Elementary School since 2019, when she joined the Newton County School System team. She previously taught first grade at Hightower Trail Elementary School in Rockdale County Public Schools. Ms. Ralston earned her Bachelor Degree in Early Childhood Education from Georgia State University. She is also certified in both ESOL (English to Speakers of Other Languages) and Gifted.

“I’m shocked and I’m honored. It’s a grateful experience and I just hope to make everybody proud,” said Ralston, who was at a loss for words when she was notified that she was a finalist for Newton County Teacher of the Year.

“Newton County Schools has some fine and able educators, and these three teachers are shining examples of this excellence,” said Benjamin Roundtree, Interim Superintendent for Newton County School System. “I wish each of them continued success.”

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 2024 Teacher of the Year program: Abbey Hospice; Archer Aviation; AT&T; BD; Beaver Manufacturing; Newton County Board of Commissioners; Bridgestone; City of Covington; Clearwave Fiber; Dualdeko; Edgar Law Firm; General Mills; Georgia United Credit Union; Ginn; Georgia Piedmont Technical College; High Priority Plumbing; Keenan Media; Longleaf Hospice; Main Street Land & Properties; Meta; Michelin; Newton County Water & Sewer Authority; Newton County IDA; Newton Federal; Nisshinbo; Northside; Oxford College; Piedmont Newton; Pinnacle Bank; SKC; Snapping Shoals EMC; SteelCo; Sunbelt Builders; Synovus; Takeda; The Center; The Covington News; Truist; and United Bank.

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].