Superintendent Ragsdale Names Nicole Kempson CCSD 2017 Teacher of the Year

Nicole Kempson reacts to Superintendent Chris Ragsdale naming her the Cobb County School District Teacher of the Year during a pep rally at Lindley Sixth Grade Academy August 11.

She cheered. She laughed. She cried. She gave away lots of hugs. “A ton of emotions,” that’s how Nicole Kempson described her reaction to Superintendent Chris Ragsdale naming her the Cobb County School District 2017 Teacher of the Year.

The earth science teacher sat in the stands of the Lindley Sixth Grade Academy gym with her students for a school pep rally featuring the Pebblebrook High School band and cheerleaders August 11. Kempson also cheered as Pebblebrook’s performing arts students danced and leaped across the floor in what she didn’t know was the opening-act to the biggest surprise of her teaching career.

“I’m grateful! I’m thankful! I’m surprised! It is a great feeling,” Kempson confessed after she learned of her promotion to district-level Teacher of the Year.

Superintendent Ragsdale said the Teacher of Year award means more to teachers like Kempson because their peers first select them for school-level Teacher of the Year. The superintendent has high expectations for Kempson. He is aiming for her to be Georgia’s Teacher of the Year.

Kempson may be CCSD Teacher of the Year, but her focus is still on her students.

“I’m going to do my best to keep doing what I’m doing and making sure my students have everything they need [in order] to know that where they are is not where they are going to end up,” Kempson said.

One of her favorite school memories revolves around a struggling student who returned to visit his teachers and let them know that he turned his life around and was going into business. That’s why she teaches. She wants to see the students succeed.

Kempson’s teaching inspiration sprung from memories of the teachers she said impacted her life, and her grandmother, who taught for 27 years and was at the surprise Teacher of the Year announcement.

“I wanted to be that teacher that changed the life of other students,” Kempson explained.

The self-described science nerd will do whatever it takes to get the students interested in what she is teaching. That includes setting a piece of paper on fire as part of one of her lessons.

“I love my sixth graders. They are independent, and yet, they still need guidance,” the Teacher of the Year said. “I love what I do, and I wouldn’t change it for anything in the world.”

Kempson didn’t start out teaching although she always knew she wanted to work with kids. It wasn’t until she started substituting in Cobb that she discovered the classroom is her destiny.

She admits she is a different kind of teacher. She sings and dances in the classroom and isn’t afraid to be herself.

“I tell them it is better to be different. I like it when you are different because when you are different no one can mimic you. Be your own person,” the Teacher of the Year advises her students.