Carla Stanford, a first-grade teacher at Glennwood Elementary, was named teacher of the year for the City Schools of Decatur at Tuesday night's Decatur School Board meeting.
The school system provided this information about the winner and the other nominees for teacher of the year.
Carla has been teaching for 15 years. She began her career teaching multiage second and third grade students in Smiths Groove, Kentucky, in the Warren County school system.
This is Carla's fifth year with City Schools of Decatur. Carla says, "my favorite part of teaching is that each year I have the opportunity to truly know a group of children. Seeds of love and learning are planted in their hearts that will grow for the rest of their lives!"
Carla's nominators said, "Carla is committed to helping to close the achievement gap and to making sure all students are learning and are cared for and loved."
"Carla is not only a parent of 2 CSD students but also a teacher who believes in growing as a teacher. She has been one of the biggest cheerleaders of "connecting the pieces" before it became a car magnet."
Outside of the classroom, Carla enjoys spending time with her family.
The other nominees were:
College Heights Early Childhood Learning Center - Mary McMahon, Special Education Teacher
Mary started teaching in Tampa, Florida, in 1992 teaching elementary students with multiple disabilities. After 5 years in Tampa, she spent 2 years with the Peace Corps teaching at the school for the blind in Casablanca, Morocco.
In 1999, she came to Atlanta and worked for 4 years teaching students with Orthopedic Impairments in Fulton County. 10 years ago Mary heard of a similar position in Decatur and jumped at the chance to come to CSD. In 2006, Mary accepted her current position at College Heights as a prekindergarten/preschool intervention teacher.
Working with younger students, Mary says, "I am fortunate to be able to see a large amount of progress in a short period of time. I get to see the "aha" moment when they learn something new almost every day. At the end of the year, to look back and see how far a student has come is absolutely the best thing about teaching for me."
Outside of work, Mary can be found spending time with her daughter; 11-year old FAVE student Anna, practicing yoga and/or walking her very active dog Stella.
Clairemont Elementary - Kameela Dixon, Second Grade Teacher
Kameela has been teaching for four years at Clairemont as a second grade teacher and she is glad to say, CSD is all she knows! She attended Georgia State University where she received her undergraduate degree in Early Childhood Education. She recently received her Master’s degree in Elementary Reading and Literacy from Walden University.
Kameela says, "teaching is something that I am extremely passionate about. I love seeing the look on students’ faces when they figure out something or realize something that they can do. Every year I look forward to another exciting, successful school year!"
Activities that Kameela enjoys when she is not teaching include fishing and traveling with her husband.
Oakhurst Elementary - Heather Whitman, Intervention Teacher and RTI Coordinator
Heather Whitman has been an educator for 14 years. She taught for 9 years at Avondale Elementary in DeKalb County and she is in her fifth year at Oakhurst as an intervention teacher. She has taught kindergarten, 1st and 4th grades, and Reading Recovery.
Heather says, "my favorite thing about being an educator is the excitement that a child exhibits when he/she figures out a difficult skill. My passion is working with students that need a little extra time or a different approach to learning."
Heather lives with her husband John, her stepdaughter, Jade, who is a senior at Decatur High, and her 3 dogs. Outside of school, she enjoys walking in parades with a New Orleans style Krewe called the Grateful Gluttons. You can find her wearing an 8-foot skeleton puppet during Halloween, carrying a lantern for the opening of the Atlanta Beltline, or riding a rainbow unicorn in a bicycle parade around town.
Winnona Park Elementary - Carrie Beauchamp, Physical Education Teacher
Carrie has been teaching for nine years. Before coming to City Schools of Decatur, Carrie taught in Lamar County and Spalding County Schools. She is in her fourth year in City Schools of Decatur.
Carrie says, "my favorite thing about my job is sharing my passion for being physically active. I know I have done my job when I receive emails like this: "I want to take a minute to tell you how grateful we are that you are [my child's] teacher. I grew up in a family that pretty much drove across a parking lot if they could avoid walking it, and I never learned to love being physically active. Having a child who loves to run and thinks about his body and what goes into it is a real gift -- I give you a lot of the credit for inspiring [my child] to pace himself and to run his own race. He had a blast yesterday, and it will not be a surprise to anyone if he becomes a life-long runner. He is just one of the many children you inspire, so thank you again for all your work and your generous gift to these kids!"
Outside of work, Carrie enjoys running, cycling, gluten free baking, photography and art.
The 4/5 Academy at Fifth Avenue - Kristen Karably, Gifted Intervention Teacher
Kristen has been teaching for 14 years and is in her tenth year in City Schools of Decatur.
She started teaching in Fulton County Schools and during her first year in FCS, she worked in four different schools as a teacher of gifted children. In Decatur, she started teaching at Oakhurst Elementary as a fourth grade science teacher.
Kristen says, "the best thing about my job is that I am always learning something new. I learn new and interesting things about the subjects I teach. I also learn about my students and the ways they grow. I am fascinated by cognition and the ways we can help students make the most of their minds."
Outside of work, Kristen likes to find inspiration in art and nature, spend time watching her kids play, design and decorate spaces and create new things like furniture and art, travel and read.
Renfroe Middle School - David Williams, Director of Bands
David is currently in his 31st year of teaching, having begun in 1978 as an elementary band teacher in the DeKalb County School System. After taking several years off from teaching while he was serving in the music ministry and working toward his master of music degree, he began teaching in City Schools of Decatur in the fall of 1984 as band director at Renfroe Middle School and is currently in his 29th year with CSD.
David says, "I feel that the best thing about my job is that I get to spend each day doing music with the best students in our school, helping them to discover the joys of making and appreciating music as well as discovering the potential that lies within themselves. I get to work with them over a three year period, then follow their continued development through their Decatur High Band years and sometimes beyond. It is a very enjoyable and gratifying career."
When David is not at work, the thing he enjoys most is simply being at home and spending time with his wife of 38 years, Merri, and their family which to date includes two sons, three daughters, one "adopted" daughter, one daughter-in-law and their one month old grandson, Caleb.
David invests much time, along with his family, in their church, Zion Baptist Church in Covington, GA where he serves as church orchestra director and deacon.
Decatur High School - Amanda Lockhart
While at Agnes Scott College, Amanda had the chance to do a teaching internship at Decatur High School. From that moment on, she knew she wanted to work at DHS. When she graduated from Agnes Scott in 1997 with a degree in bio-psychology, she took her teaching certification in science first to Redan High School, then Mount Vernon Presbyterian before returning to her self-proclaimed home: Decatur High.
She has taught biology at DHS for the past eleven years, and says that, "the interactions harvested between students and myself are some of my favorite things about teaching. I chose to be the sponsor for yearbook as well as student government association so I could collaborate even more with my wonderful students, and see them develop in a proximity that extends beyond time in the classroom. I'm happy to say that many of my associations with high school students have led to lifelong friendships, and I truly cherish everyone who has remained in touch with me."
When she is not at Decatur High, she enjoys running, crafting, and spending time with her family.