Teacher of the Year: (l to r) Janice Champion, PJHS; Cristy Jacobs, JMS; 2018-2019 Teacher of the Year Winner Kanyon Petti, PHS; Whitney Heath, HES; Michele Moore, TES; Ashley Cagle, HCES.
Superintendent Dr. Carlton Wilson opened the 2018-2019 Teacher of the Year banquet with a poignant real-life story about a boy named Steve who grew up in home with alcoholic parents. His school life reflected his home life - chaotic and unstable. His grades and relationships suffered, but one of his teachers, Mrs. White, believed in him. Her faith changed the course of his life.
“Someone for the first time cared about him,” Dr. Wilson told attendees. “That’s when his world changed.”
The boy went on to excel in school and in life. Dr. Wilson’s story framed the tone of the evening – exceptional teachers not only master the art of teaching, but “truly love their students” as well.
The night was a celebration of the 2018-2019 Teachers of the Year from each school in the system. Pickens High School Teacher Kanyon Petti, affectionately called “KP” by her students, was named system-wide Teacher of the Year.
Mrs. Petti, a PHS graduate herself, is in her sixth-year as an educator. She teaches American Literature, AP Language and Composition, and is the head cheerleading coach. She is also co-department chair, co-sponsored Students Against Destructive Decisions, is working to obtain her Specialist Degree in Curriculum and Instruction , and is involved with the school Travel Club. [Look for a profile of Petti in an upcoming edition.]
“I really can’t believe this,” a tearful Petti said during her acceptance speech. “Thank you so much. This means so much to me. I feel like I’ve won the Oscars. I just want to thank my parents. They gave me opportunities growing up and always told me go to school, do well in school, and they pushed me so hard - and I’m so glad they did.”
Petti will go on to compete for the Georgia Teacher of the Year.
Prior to Dr. Wilson awarding the top title, Petti and other Teachers of the Year were put to the test by their “toughest critics.” Following a brief video introduction of each teacher, students talked on camera about what they loved about their teachers and why thought they should win.
“She’s super nice,” “We love her,” “She has a big heart,” “She helps me be more independent,” “She helps students be better people,” were some of the many accolades students gave.
As 2018-2019 Teacher of the Year, Petti will receive $400 a month for the next 12 months from a local car dealership, as well as a five-day vacation to Gulf Shores. Petti and all other teacher of the year nominees also received gift baskets.
Teachers of the Year by school were:
Harmony Elementary – Whitney Heath
Hill City Elementary – Ashley Cagle
Tate Elementary – Michele Moore
Jasper Middle – Cristy Jacobs
Pickens Junior High – Janice Champion
Pickens High – Kanyon Petti
The system also named Substitute Teacher of the Year and runners-up during the banquet: Substitute Teacher of the Year, Richard Wynn; first runner-up, Larry Applewhite; and two second runners-up, Shona Chester and Jennifer Denson.
“All these teachers are an example of the teachers we have here in Pickens County, and I’m very, very proud of [them],” Dr. Wilson said in closing. “They are great examples of the education here in Pickens County and we are so thankful and proud to have the quality of teachers we have, and are also grateful for the community. This is a very supportive community and as superintendent I couldn’t thank you enough.”