Debra Prendergast, Heather Carter, and Leslie Nix join the ranks of elementary, middle, and high school 2017-2018 Bartow County Teachers of the Year. While these humble and modest educators from Pine Log Elementary School, Woodland Middle School, and Woodland High School would most likely prefer not to be in the spotlight, the Bartow County School System believes in celebrating those whose positivity and passion inspires, and cultivates an insurmountable level of success that can be felt throughout the community.
Debra Prendergast’s third-grade students at Pine Log Elementary School say it best, “She walks into our classroom with a smile on her face every single day, and has done so much for us. She teaches the best lessons ever, and is always focused.” Principal Lenora Nyeste calls Mrs. Prendergast “one of the school’s most dedicated educators.” She serves on the Pine Log Building Leadership Team, the Building Capacity committee, district level curriculum development, and the School Improvement Team. Mrs. Prendergast says her ability to relate to children defines her as a teacher. She believes overcoming personal challenges early on in life equipped her with the tools she needs to help students from all walks of life at Pine Log Elementary School.
If you walk into Heather Carter’s science class at Woodland Middle School, it is not hard to see why her students are more than prepared for high school, and beyond. Mrs. Carter has developed what she calls “Success Skills.” They include eye contact, respect, confidence, and the ability to speak in complete sentences with the appropriate volume. When answering questions, or giving presentations, Mrs. Carter requires students to stand, address their audience, and use Success Skills to answer. Former students say this daily exercise enhanced their public speaking skills. Current teachers at Woodland Middle School boast about Mrs. Carter’s constant ambitious and positive attitude, saying it is infectious to the entire school culture. Mrs. Carter will be the first one to tell you, “While academics is the stronghold of our system, and should always be placed first, I hope to inspire the incorporation of pure kindness into everyday routines.”
Leslie Nix, a veteran math teacher at Woodland High School, is an overwhelming student favorite, according to those who know her best. She builds authentic, lasting relationships with her students; often attending their extracurricular activities just because they asked her to. Mrs. Nix does not ignore those additional, unwritten duties that come along with being an exceptional educator. She says, “We are mentors to those children who need guidance, protection, and advice. We are role models for those who do not have anyone to look up to. We are a sense of security for students after they make mistakes. We are encouragers to those giving into the frustration after repeated failure, and we are cheerleaders in those moments of success, no matter how small.” Mrs. Nix’s selflessness can be summed up with a quote from her husband, Kevin. He says, “After 9 p.m. she looks like a little bird in a nest of papers, notebooks, computers, scissors, glue sticks, construction paper, calculators, pencils, and pens. I don’t just mean every once in a while. I do mean every single night of her life. Rarely does she go to bed before midnight.”
As you can see, it will be a tough task for the Teacher of the Year Committee at Reinhardt University to decide which finalist will receive the System Teacher of the Year award. The announcement and celebration will be held on November 9th, 2017 at the Bartow County College and Career Academy. Join us in praising these women who have been called to serve the children of Bartow County in extraordinary ways.