Pamesha Ivey, a fourth grade teacher at R.L. Norris Elementary School, is McDuffie County’s 2021 Teacher of the Year.

Filled with emotion and praise, Ivey lifted her voice and declared that being selected Teacher of the Year is an honor that she does not take for granted.

“I thank my children. I love my children, all 52 of them,” the social studies and reading/English Arts teacher said.  “They have encouraged me, they motivate me and it is what I take home each and every day.”

Ivey was named Teacher of the Year in an Oct. 28 reception that recognized the educators in the McDuffie County School System who have exemplified leadership and commitment and who have consistently gone above and beyond to educate the students in the classroom and community.

“As we celebrate you, we say thank you for shaping the future of our school system as well as our community,” said Schools Superintendent Mychele Rhodes.

Ivey, who has taught at R.L. Norris Elementary School for five years, congratulated her fellow honorees that were selected teacher of the year by their individual schools.  Those nominees were Bliss Hawkins of Dearing Elementary, Shanda Hunt of Thomson-McDuffie Middle, Shannan Smith of Thomson Elementary, Beth Shedd of Maxwell Elementary and Ashley Wyatt of Thomson High School.  Each nominee offered remarks about their careers and was presented with a red apple in appreciation.

“I know how hard you work. I know there are some restless days and long nights,” Ivey said. “Scripture tells me, I look to the hills from which cometh my help,” she said.  “All of my help comes from the Lord.”

The top teacher accepted her designation and proclaimed appreciation and fullness. “I thank you all so, so very much,” she said.   

Ivey is now in a pool of teacher of the year finalists from across the state seeking to be crowned 2021 teacher of the year.   The 2021 teacher of the year designation matches the Georgia Department of Education’s fiscal year. The state’s top teacher will take a year off from local school district responsibilities and will go to work on behalf of the state’s education department, beginning July 2020, which is fiscal year 2021.

Teaching is an opportunity to engage with students from stages of development and all walks of life and is one of the greatest ways to make an impact in shaping the person a student would ultimately become, Ivey said.  

“As a teacher, I am more than just an educator. I am a mentor, a confidant and a friend. It is my mission to make a difference in the lives of as many students as I can and I hope the impact extends far beyond the classroom. I want to take part in shaping the next generation,” Ivey stated.

Tan Dukes, the 2020 Teacher of the Year, spoke of the honor she had in representing her hometown during the past year as teacher of the year. “It has opened doors and allowed me to meet and collaborate with some of the finest educators in McDuffie County and the CSRA.”

Gifting the newest Teacher of the Year and the honorees was her final act.  She challenged teachers to continue to contribute to the ongoing efforts to strengthen communities and help children and families thrive. “I believe we all share a common vision and that is to promote the wellbeing and learning of all students entrusted in our care,” Dukes said.

She acknowledged the truism of the “It takes a village to raise a child” saying. “A village is only as strong as each of its members which consists of all of you,” Dukes said.

In addition to celebrating teachers, Jefferson Energy, which sponsored the Teacher of the Year reception, presented THS with an $8,000 check from its CORE initiative, which sponsors educational endeavors.

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