Columbia County's top teacher was recognized Thursday as a finalist for the state's top teaching honor.
Greenbrier Middle School sixth-grade social studies teacher Shaun Owen has been named a state finalist for Teacher of the Year.
Greenbrier Middle School sixth-grade social studies teacher Shaun Owen was announced as one of 10 finalists for the 2006 Georgia Teacher of the Year award in an Atlanta news conference by state school Superintendent Kathy Cox.
"Traveling around our state, I have seen firsthand how dedicated and focused our teachers are on the goal of helping every child learn at the highest levels," Cox said in a released statement.
"These teachers are the cream of the crop and Georgia's children are fortunate to have them at the head of the class."
Owen was named Columbia County's Teacher of the Year at a September banquet, making her eligible for the state honor.
She then underwent a screening process by a group of panelists and was named a finalist. She will face another set of judges in the coming weeks for the top teaching honor in the state.
The winner will be announced at an awards celebration March 18 in Atlanta.
Owen was confident about her chances of making it to the finalists list and is equally optimistic about her chances to win the state teaching title.
"This word gets overused, but it's absolute and total passion for what I do," she said. "Kids deserve the best."
Through the use of PowerPoint presentations, in which she incorporates animation, maps, and video and audio clips, Owen said, she likes to entertain her pupils while she's instructing them.
"If information is presented in a way that's not going to hold your attention, you're only going to get half as much as you should," she said.
"I believe you go in and do whatever you have to do to maintain their attention. If it takes playing music, or doing wild and crazy things, or standing on your desk and singing, or spending hours researching something, whatever it is, then you do it."
The state teacher of the year will take a sabbatical from teaching for one year to travel to school systems around the state giving speeches, conducting staff development activities for teachers and parents, serving on statewide committees and participating in conferences. It's an opportunity that Owen relishes while exercising a mild trepidation.
"I honestly feel like I'm using a strategy I've invented that 95 percent of the teachers can benefit from," she said.
"I have something unique that can help a lot of teachers."
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