Shanika Freeman has been an educator for six years. Since 2017, she has taught fifth-grade social studies at Moreland Road Elementary. Freeman is currently the school’s social studies professional learning facilitator, PTO co-chair and Relay For Life committee member. She served on the GSCS Social Studies Task Force as a fifth-grade social studies curriculum writer and was identified as a GSCS Model Classroom Teacher. Freeman received her bachelor, master and specialist degrees from the University of West Georgia. She also recently completed eight years of service in the Georgia Army National Guard.
“Every day that I step into my school, I say to myself, ‘Shanika, be the teacher you would want your child to have!’ This simple statement is the driving force behind my philosophy of teaching and everything I do for my students, school, district and the state as an educator."
Wilson has been a music teacher for 15 years serving elementary, middle and high school students at both private and public schools. Wilson has taught music at Jordan Hill Elementary for two years. She also helps with the school’s Literacy Days competition, organizes music performances for PTO and special holiday programs and serves as the accompanist for the elementary and middle school Griffin-Spalding Honor Chorus events. For the district, Wilson has edited and written nationally aligned middle school chorus curriculum, created Student Learning Objectives and served as a mentor to new choral teachers. Wilson received her bachelor’s degree in Music from Clayton State University and her master’s degree in Music Education from the University of Southern Mississippi.
In her application Wilson stated, “As an educator, it is my goal to help all students reach their fullest potential by providing a classroom environment that is positive, challenging and allows for self-discovery. I truly love what I do and give my students all of my focus and energy. I strive every day to be a better teacher than the day before. My teaching motto is to do what you love, do it better every day, every hour and for every child.”
Joan Baldridge began her career in Special Education as a paraprofessional in 2007. In 2014, Joan fulfilled her dreams of being a Special Education teacher at Jackson Road Elementary School. She has been the self-contained MOID teacher for three years now.
In her application, Baldridge stated “I want the world to know that every single day teachers come to school with the sole purpose of igniting fires. We work tirelessly to design our teaching to spark an idea, fan a flame and see recognition ablaze in the eyes of our students. We are passionate about what we do. We are lifelong learners with many of us being Masters, Specialist or Doctors. We research, read, and learn new ways to interest our students. We stoke those little fires when they wain with brain breaks, innovative project based learning and new and improved technology. We are empowering our future leaders. We are fire starting, flame fanning, fully involved five alarm structures. I am one of these powerful people.”
2016-17 - Amy Brown, Jackson Road Elementary School
Amy Brown has worked as a GSCS educator for over 10 years. She began teaching fifth grade at Jackson Road Elementary (JRE) in 2006 and is currently teaching third and fifth grade. In addition to teaching, Brown serves on the JRE leadership team, is a mentor for new and veteran teachers, facilitates the LEGO League, assists with the running club, manages the Makerspace, co-developed the House System to support the PBIS initiative, co-developed and sponsored the Great Griffin Shake and was named the Teacher of the Year for Jackson Road Elementary in 2005 and 2013.
In her application, Brown stated, “In my classroom, I strive to create an environment where the students can trust me. They have to know that it is a safe place to try new things without fear of failure. One of our class mantras is that ‘It is okay to make a mistake as long as you learn something from it!’ Once students realize that the classroom is a secure environment without ridicule, the sky is the limit. New opportunities will be tried, new challenges will be taken, and knowledge will be shared.”
Jonathan McGavin has been employed by the Griffin-Spalding County School System (GSCS) for almost 10 years. “Watty Piper wrote it best in the book, The Little Engine that Could. The quote, "I think I can, I think I can,” holds true in my classroom. I believe that if you think you can do something and put in all of the necessary work to achieve a goal, you will succeed. I teach my class everyday based off this belief and I do my best to instill this belief in each and every student that crosses my threshold. Too often students say ‘I can't’ when the going gets tough but in my class those words are not acceptable,” stated McGavin.
A fellow educator and supporter of McGavin stated, “Jonathan puts his heart and soul into his teaching. He goes above and beyond to ensure his students feel loved and secure. He truly cares about making a difference in their lives and making sure they succeed.”
2014-2015 – Jackie Summerville, Orrs Elementary School
Summerville has been a GSCS elementary educator for almost 30 years. She began her career teaching kindergarten at Atkinson Elementary in 1985. After one year, Summerville moved to Beaverbrook Elementary where she taught pre-K, kindergarten, second and third grade over 22 years. In 2008 she transferred to Orrs Elementary where she is currently teaching kindergarten.
“I was born to be a teacher! To inspire hope, ignite imagination and instill a love for learning,” stated Jackie Summerville.
2013 – 2014 – Raye Aragon, Rehoboth Road Middle School
Mrs. Aragon has taught in Griffin-Spalding County School System since 1993. Mrs. Aragon holds a Master’s Degree and is certified as both a gifted teacher and a master teacher. She has been the Teacher of the Year for both Flynt and Taylor Street middle schools and served as a committee member for item review and analysis of the CRCT for the Georgia Department of Education.
In a letter of reference, Mrs. Aragon’s former student wrote “Mrs. Aragon isn’t any everyday teacher. Every year I meet new teachers. Yes, lots of the teachers are good, nice, or fun, but Mrs. Aragon is so much more than that! She’s memorable.”