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ficient and effective every single day.”
He went on to emphasize this character trait in Adams through examples within the school. “Initiative has never been a problem with Mrs. Adams,” Barrow noted. “Even when we have Positive Behavior Interventions and Support (PBIS) breaks every week, she jumps in and is selling drinks and candy – it’s not even her duty to do that, she just jumps in wherever she is needed to help. That teamwork approach is why she’s a great teacher and team worker, as well as a leader in the school.”
Montgomery County Assistant Superintendent Beverly Faircloth spoke of her admiration of Adams’s work ethic. “Elizabeth Adams is a hard worker, and when she puts her mind to something, she will accomplish it. Whether it be the dream of becoming a teacher or new ideas that support her students’ educational journey, she makes things happen to the best of her ability,” Faircloth praised.
Adams was inspired to become a teacher by her third grade teacher within her own educational journey. She has remained local with her talents, having graduated as a Treutlen County High School honor student. She earned Associate’s and Bachelor’s degrees from East Georgia State College and Georgia Southern University, respectively, graduating with honors.
Certified to teach middle grades math, English language arts, and science, as well as high school biology, Adams has been a versatile and effective educator within her time at Montgomery County Schools — the only school system for which she has worked.
“Montgomery County is home,” she commented to a colleague. “My husband teaches here, we both coach soccer here, and we just genuinely enjoy our time here.”
Adams currently teaches 8th grade physical science, but also serves as the yearbook advisor, high school soccer coach, as a member of the school system’s public relations team, as an avid supporter of the school’s wrestling team, and more.
Students told of their experience and admiration of Adams in a video that was shown to all Teacher of the Year recipients within the school system. “She explains things very clearly so everyone can understand, and she really cares about us,” a student explained. Adams will now compete for the Georgia Teacher of the Year honor, which the Georgia Department of Education bestows on an individual every year. If named Georgia Teacher of the Year, Adams will take a sabbatical year off from teaching to sit in on Georgia House of Representatives and Senate sessions, as well as to speak at numerous events throughout the state.
Elementary Teacher of the Year
Karen Walker was chosen as the Montgomery County Elementary Teacher of the Year. Walker currently teaches grades 1-5 at the Eagle Academy, which is a unique education option which the Montgomery County School System offers elementary and middle school students. Certified in both elementary education and gifted classes, Walker has spent 26 years as a teacher, with her last four years of teaching being spent at Montgomery County Elementary School. She has taught all elementary grade levels, but has spent the most time with students in grades 3-5.
Montgomery County Elementary School Principal Eric Burns expressed his admiration for Walker’s calm and caring demeanor. “There may be something that doesn’t go quite right, there may be something going on just in her own personal life, but it doesn’t affect her. She keeps shining, she keeps moving, she keeps pushing forward – if those things are going on, you never know it,” he said.
Burns added, “If there’s one word I have to choose out of all the words to describe Mrs. Walker, it’s ‘servant’ or ‘servant’s heart.’ She does not clock out – she is always available to parents, other teachers, and students.”
During the video presentation, students echoed Burns’s praise for Walker. “What makes Mrs. Walker a good teacher is that she is really kind and doesn’t get stressed easily,” one student remarked.
“Mrs. Walker doesn’t have to flip a light switch when she walks into a room: her personality, her teaching skills – that’s what lights up the room,” Burns concluded. “She can take the lowest of learners and show educational gain within those students; she can also take the highest achievers and can push them forward to make them better than what they are. Mrs. Walker gives her all to every student – their background has no effect on how much she loves each one of them.” High School Teacher of the Year Tyrone Madison, affectionately known as “Coach Rooster” by students, was named Montgomery County High School Teacher of the Year. Madison teaches business education at the high school, and coaches cross country, track, and girls and boys basketball.
Madison became a teacher after retiring as a Sergeant First Class in the United States Army, where he spent multiple deployments overseas. He earned a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration with a concentration in health and wellness from Brewton-Parker College.
Administration and students praised Madison as a role model in the school, citing his bond with his students as his biggest asset.
“Coach Madison shines because of positive student relationships,” Barrow explained. “He’s got it figured out when it comes to that. He can stand in the hall and as they are coming by, he calls them by their name regardless of who they are. He talks to all of them, and they respond accordingly to him. He’s a role model for them.”
Barrow exemplified these students’ relationships through an anecdote from last year, when he would have to shoo the seniors from crowding around Madison’s classroom door. “They all love to talk to the man they call Coach Rooster,” Barrow said with a laugh.
Faircloth further discussed Madison’s ability to connect with students. “Building a bond with the students and treating them like the young adults that they are is the most important part of Coach Madison’s teaching philosophy,” she commented. “He shows the students that he cares and is interested in them as individuals, not just business students.”
In the video presentation, a student added, “Coach Madison shines because he is able to communicate with any student, no matter where they come from or what they’re going through.”
Superintendent’s Comments Montgomery County Superintendent Stan Rentz commented on the celebration and honorees during the event, as well as his own experience with the excellence of the school system within his past 3 weeks as superintendent.
“Growing up in Hazelhurst, Montgomery County was just a place on the map to me. But having been here for three weeks so far, Montgomery County already feels like home,” he told attendees. “It is a great place with great people – in fact, it’s actually the people that make this place so great. We are equipped with an excellent staff and surrounded by a wonderful community.”
He also acknowledged the magnitude of honor this event bestowed on all involved. “This is a big moment for not only the teachers of the year, but also for the profession of teaching; thus, we want to make it special,” he explained. “it is a noble profession which the teachers have chosen, and I hope they realize how important it is. “
“What a great honor to be considered for this by your colleagues,” he told honorees. “You are now leaders in those schools. So, not only are you influencing students, but also your peers. I can’t think of a better honor than for your peers to say, ‘this is one of our very best.’” He closed his comments by comparing education and light. “Light is an electromagnetic wave, continued from page
and the strength of the wave continues on and on,” he noted. “When you think about the analogy of teaching and light, you realize that these teachers affect eternity because you can never tell where your influence stops, just like you can never tell where the light stops. Teachers make a difference in the lives of children, and as administration, we want to do what is necessary to help teachers do their very best. If teachers are the flashlight, administration is the battery – we are important, but not as important as the teachers.”
He concluded, “I appreciate the positivity of all of our teachers of the year, as well as the role models which they all are,” he concluded.
Selection Process The Teacher of the Year candidates are based on the 9 criteria on which the Georgia Teacher of the Year is judged, which includes inspiration, inclusion, admiration, respect, community service, poise, and more. To be considered for Montgomery County Teacher of the Year, teachers must be certified and have spent at least 3 years teaching.