Stephens Co. Names Teacher of the Year

The Stephens County School System names its system-wide Teacher of the Year.

School Superintendent Sherrie Whiten and other staff surprised April LaHayne of Toccoa Elementary in her classroom Tuesday to present her with the honor of the system-wide Teacher of the Year award.

LaHayne teaches second grade at Toccoa Elementary.

She said it is an extraordinary feeling to receive this honor.

“Never in a million years would I have thought that six years into my teaching that this would be something that I have accomplished,” said LaHayne.  “Teaching is my passion and I feel truly blessed to be here.”

LaHayne is in her sixth year of teaching, all at Toccoa Elementary School.

Over those six years, she has taught Kindergarten, First Grade, and Second Grade.

She said there is nothing like working with small children and having the ability to see them succeed.

“I have been around children all my life,” said LaHayne.  “The minute I got to step into a room and watch the face of a child light up and see them get something for the first time and get excited about learning, it just captured my heart.  I have enjoyed every minute of it.”

Meanwhile, Toccoa Elementary School Principal Tammy Whitworth said that LaHayne does a wonderful job.

“She is always enthusiastic when she comes to work,” said Whitworth.  “She is enthusiastic with her classroom.  I did an observation the other day and the children were engaged.  She had different groups working on different things depending on their skill level.  She also models manners in her classroom, which carries over to the children and it is just exciting to watch her teach and interact with her children.”

Stephens County School Superintendent Sherrie Whiten echoed that, noting the impact she has on her students even after they move on.

“One of the things they were talking about a few minutes ago is about how all of the things she teaches in the classroom, such as manners and treating each other with respect, carries over when this group of kids goes into another classroom and how evident that is,” said Whiten.  “She is a fantastic teacher.”

LaHayne was chosen as the system’s Teacher of the Year from a group of six individuals named the Teacher of the Year at each Stephens County school.

Those other school Teachers of the Year are Buffy Kelley from Big A Elementary, Jana Cheek from Liberty Elementary, Cheryl Burkett from Eastanollee Elementary, Eileen Helgeland from Stephens County Middle School, and Dr. Farish Mulkey from Stephens County High School.

Noting that Stephens County is blessed to have the teachers it does, Whiten said all six of these teachers do a great job.

“All six of the teachers that were named Teachers of the Year for their schools are of the same caliber,” said Whiten.  “They are all fantastic teachers.  It all goes back to the relationships they build with the kids.  We are really fortunate.”

LaHayne and the School Teachers of the Year will all be honored at a banquet that will be held later in the school year.