Standing on the stage of Marietta’s Strand Theater, Fred Veeder recounted a time when his college professor started crying as he told his students how much they meant to him. The professor thanked the young Veeder and his classmates for everything they had done in the class. Those decades ago, before Fred Veeder started teaching at Dodgen Middle School, before Fred Veeder became a mentor to his fellow teachers, and before Fred Veeder was named the Cobb County School District Teacher of the Year, Fred Veeder didn’t understand how a teacher could care so much about his students.
“Now, I know,” Veeder confidently told the community members gathered to honor him as Cobb’s Teacher of the Year. “We don’t do it for money. We don’t do it for recognition. We do it for love.”
The Cobb community came together October 11 to honor the Cobb County School District and Marietta City Schools Teachers of the Year as part of the Cobb Chamber’s 30th anniversary of the organization’s Give Our Schools a Hand celebration.
The Cobb Teacher of the Year refers to Dodgen, where has taught for more than 15 years, as one of the most wonderful places because of the students and the teachers, who he calls family.
“When I accept this award, I really feel like it is for Dodgen Middle School as well as myself,” the math teacher said.
Veeder described the principles that have helped shape him as a teacher. They’re principles that came from his four principals.
According to the Teacher of the Year, his first principal was as fine a man as he has ever known, second only to his dad. Veeder took his first principal’s advice to heart:
“Teaching the content is important, but teaching is all about building relationships. Make a connection with the kids and you will love this job.”
His next principal, Robin Lattizori, now serves as an Assistant Superintendent in Cobb. As his principal, she reminded Veeder and his fellow teachers that they teach every single student in the school, not just the ones in their class. He follows her advice and tries to smile or say hello to all the students he sees because a teacher never knows how that smile or hello will positively impact a student.
His first principal stressed the importance of building relationships, but it was his third principal who showed him how. His current principal, Dr. Loralee Hill encouraged him to learn from his fellow teachers as they have learned from him.
Just like his principals have encouraged him, he tries to do the same for his students. He does so by setting an example for them and holding them to high expectations, which he says inspires them to do their best.
“On the first day of school, I always promise my kids two things: I promise them that I will never yell at them and I promise them to do my best every day, and,” the Teacher of the Year tells them, “‘I’m expecting your best every day.’”
Cobb Superintendent Chris Ragsdale praised the Teacher of the Year as one of the District’s team members who make Cobb the best place to teach, lead, and learn.
“I could not be prouder to [honor] Fred Veeder and the accomplishments he makes,” Superintendent Ragsdale said. “There is not another profession that can shape the future of your community, county, state, nation, and even the world. Education is that special place where you actually get to do that.”