James wins teacher of the year for McDuffie Co.
By Caitlin Boland

Shown from left are 2019 teacher of the year finalists Valeri Cushman, Jennie Gheesling, Jay James, Ashley Kelley, Porsha Stephens and Nicole Wood.
Jay James, teacher at Thomson-McDuffie Middle School, was named the 2019 McDuffie County Teacher of the Year on Oct. 23.
“It [winning] was a surprise,” James said. “It is amazing that God would see fit to put me in this position.”
James, along with Valeri Cushman(THS), Jennie Gheesling (NES), Ashley Kelley (MES), Porsha Stephens (DES) and Nicole Wood (TES), were honored at the teacher of the year reception.
“Each of these incredible individuals play an active role in our community and our school system,” said Mychele Rhodes, McDuffie County Schools superintendent. “They are poised, they are articulate and they possess an unwavering commitment to our profession.”
Rhodes said all of the candidates combined have 54 years of experience. All six candidates were reviewed and graded by an outside panel of judges and were scored in three areas -- answers to questions in the Georgia teacher of the year packet, classroom observation and an interview.
Each teacher of the year finalist gave remarks on what they wanted to communicate to their profession.
After James was named the county’s teacher of the year, the 2018 teacher of the year Sonya Strong spoke to the finalists.
“As you celebrate tonight, please understand that tonight is but a water break in the race towards greatness because greatness in education is always a journey, it is never a destination. In this profession, if you think you’ve arrived at greatness and become comfortable in any position, complacency follows, and complacency brings stagnation. I employ you to continue to chase greatness as you keep moving forward.”
FOR ADDITIONAL DETAILS, see the full story in the Oct. 26, 2017 issue of The McDuffie Progress. To have The McDuffie Progress delivered to your home or business each week, simply call 706-595-1601 to subscribe. Or, follow the link on our home page to subscribe.





McDuffie Progress




McDuffie Progress

McDuffie Progress





McDuffie Progress