District Names Teachers of the Year For Elementary, Middle & High

Patrick O’Connell, Beth Knight, Chris Ragsdale

David Nelson, Rick Parker, Chris Ragsdale

Chris Ragsdale, Tyler Gwinn

In three separate surprise presentations at their respective schools on July 28, Superintendent Chris Ragsdale named the school district’s three academic level Teachers of the Year. They are Beth Knight of Hendricks Elementary School, Rick Parker of Daniell Middle School, and Tyler Gwynn of Allatoona High School. On the first day of pre-planning, Mr. Ragsdale surprised the teachers by naming them academic level Teachers of the Year in front of their fellow teachers and staff members.

Each of the three level winners was first selected as local school Teachers of the Year by fellow faculty members. School honorees submitted written applications for the District-wide honor, which are read and rated independently by a committee of administrators. The highest-rated applicants from elementary, middle, and high schools are named Teachers of the Year. The District Teacher of the Year will be selected from among the three academic level winners following a comprehensive interview process.

Here is information about each of today’s honorees:

Beth Knight

Elementary School

Teaching Bio:

  • Teaches 2nd Grade at Hendricks Elementary
  • Hired at Hendricks as Academic Coach in 2008
  • She and her team were able to elevate math performance from 69 percent meets/exceeds to more than 90 percent meets/exceeds in just two years.
  • Believes in the concept of teamwork with her focus on teachers working collaboratively toward a common goal.
  • She is a lifelong learner who has earned two graduate degrees since becoming a teacher.
  • Is involved with numerous professional and charitable organizations.

Teaching Style:

  • Sincerely believes every child can learn.
  • She meets one-on-one with each child in her class, every day.
  • Children take feedback from one-on-one conferences and improve.
  • Gets to know each student and then teaches to that individual student.
  • She says, “I am not the fountain of knowledge for my students; I am instead the facilitator of inspiration and the guide along the journey”.

Quote from Principal:
“Beth Knight stands out as a teacher because of the close bonds that she develops with her students, their families, and
with her colleagues. She makes extra efforts to connect with families, which ultimately helps parents support their children
in greater ways. Beth loves to learn to improve her craft and she never stops in her search for different ways to serve every
different kind of learner. She is committed to personal growth and the growth of her students.”
– Hendricks Principal Patrick O’Connell

Rick Parker

Daniell Middle School

Teaching Bio:

  • Teaches 7th Grade Social Studies.
  • Started out in the Internet security business, but after 10 years and many hours training his colleagues, realized that teaching was his calling.
  • Became a teacher at 31 because he wanted to make a difference.
  • In 2006, was nominated as Maryland Social Studies Teacher of the Year.
  • Hired by Cobb County School District in 2007.

Teaching Style:

  • Always wears a coat and tie when he teaches to establish decorum and professionalism.
  • Embraces the use of technology to expand the learning environment.
  • He and his students created their own version of Wikipedia just for Social Studies.
  • Obtained a license for their own Google App for DaniellPedia.com.
  • Believes strongly in student engagement and has been known to dress in safari gear and other costumes to teach students about history.

Quote from Principal:
“Engaging. Dynamic. Intentional. These are just three words which describe Mr. Rick Parker’s teaching style with the students of
Daniell Middle School. Whether dressing in character as people students are studying, providing experiences for students outside the
classroom for events such as the Geography Bee, or preparing students with 21st century digital learning experiences such as Daniellpedia,
Mr. Parker ensures his students receive a premier education in history both in and out of the classroom. His dedication to each individual
student is evident in his students’ success. Mr. Parker is master teacher!”
– Daniell Principal David Nelson

Tyler Gwynn

Allatoona High School

Teaching Bio:

  • Teaches Honors Geography, Honors World History, U.S. History and Psychology.
  • Grandmother was a Latin teacher who taught him how to bring out the best in those around him.
  • Did not plan on becoming a teacher after college, but entered the profession after being recruited by several former teachers and coaches.
  • Came to Allatoona from South Cobb High School, has been a teacher in Cobb for 14 years and has also coached wrestling.

Teaching Style:

  • Believes his most important mission is preparing students for “real life”.
  • Has adapted the Life Game for his Current Issues class. Students live out a complete life during the semester while maintaining a budget and navigating life’s obstacles, as well as financial and social challenges.
  • Hosted an event at Allatoona called Realization of Education hundreds of community and business leaders were invited to speak to students about the relevance of what they are learning and how it applies to the real world.

Quote from Principal:
“Tyler Gwynn is an enthusiastic teacher who cares about his students, teaches with passion and makes learning fun every day.”
– Allatoona Principal Scott Bursmith