The Thomaston-Upson Board of Education held a reception in honor of the 2012-2013 Teachers of the Year prior to their meeting Tuesday night. At the meeting, Superintendent Dr. Maggie Shook made remarks about each of the teachers and presented them with framed certificates.
Debbie Martinez is the Upson-Lee North Elementary Teacher of the Year. She received her Bachelor’s degree in Music Education from Columbus College. She is certified in Early Childhood Education and Middle Grades Language Arts. She has taught at Thurston, Upson-Lee South, and Upson-Lee Middle School. She currently teaches fourth grade math and science at Upson-Lee North.
“Mrs. Martinez writes that teaching is her “home” and although she has experienced many professional transitions in her life, she has continued to thrive and mature in the educational environment in ways that would not have been possible had she chosen another career path,” said Dr. Shook. “She begins each day with the goal of being a better teacher on this day than she was on the day before. She believes that everything she contributes – educationally, physically, emotionally, and financially – she does because she is where she is supposed to be and is doing the thing she was built to do.”
Nesha Campbell is the Upson –Lee Middle School Teacher of the year. She received her Bachelor’s degree in Middle Grades Language and Social Studies from Fort Valley State University. She holds a Master’s in Reading from Georgia Southwestern and a Specialist’s degree in Middle Grades Language and Reading from Columbus State University. She is also Gifted Endorsed. Mrs. Campbell began her teaching career at Upson-Lee Middle School in 2004. She teaches seventh grade Language Arts and Social Studies.
“From a very early age, Mrs. Campbell dreamed of inspiring others through teaching. Nesha Campbell’s classroom is an inviting, caring, and nurturing haven where children can feel comfortable, loved, and safe,” said Dr. Shook. “Mrs. Campbell realizes that what happens in the classroom is important, but she also tries to recognize and be sensitive to the external factors affecting a child’s education. By building relationships with her students, she is able to learn about their diverse backgrounds and about all factors influencing their educational, social, and emotional growth and development.”
Gus Condon is the Upson-Lee High School Teacher of the Year. He received his Bachelor’s degree in Sport Management from Liberty University. He is certified in Special Education Adapted, General Curriculum PK-12th grade. He has been teaching for seven years and currently teaches Special Education grades 9-12 at Upson-Lee High School.
“Mr. Condon states that he did not find teaching, but that teaching found him. Now, he is passionate and committed to impacting young people, specifically young people with disabilities, through education,” said Dr. Shook. “He believes that his role as the teacher is to assist his students in gaining the proper personal motivation to better cope with their life experiences and to become motivated, life-long learners while valuing personal mental and physical health and well-being.”
Melody Gaskins is the Upson-Lee South Elementary and Thomaston-Upson School System Teacher of the Year. She received her Bachelor’s in Early Childhood Education from Valdosta State College. She also holds a Master’s degree from Mercer University and a Specialist’s degree from Troy University, both in Early Childhood Education. She has taught Kindergarten, 1st grade, and 4th grade within Thomaston and Upson County schools and currently teaches first grade at Upson-Lee South Elementary.
“Mrs. Gaskins believes that the teacher’s role in the classroom is similar to that of a coach on the field,” said Dr. Shook. “Her students are a team, and each one plays a vital role in her class. She believes in building a sense of camaraderie in the classroom and promoting positive relationships among students and teachers. Teaching is not a solo act and the game can’t be won with only one player on the field. Whether it’s the teachers planning together or the students learning together, according to Melody Gaskins, the quality of the experience is significantly enhanced through collaboration.”