Colleagues of Danielle Callan say the River Ridge Elementary School music teacher is fulfilling a family legacy, following in the footsteps of her mother as Columbia County Teacher of the Year.
Callan was named the county's top educator for 2007-08 during a banquet Thursday night at Savannah Rapids Pavilion. Her mother, Bel Air Elementary teacher Deborah Callan, was the honoree for 1992-93.
Courtney Owen, a friend of Calla and an art teacher at River Ridge, said Callan is one of the best teachers she has ever seen.
"You can just tell she's supposed to be here and she's doing what she was born to do," Owen said.
Callan said being named teacher of the year has left her feeling "honored and very humbled, because I look around even at my school and know there are so many teachers that are highly qualified and could have received this honor."
On Friday morning, fellow teachers at River Ridge congratulated Callan with a banner and balloons. Throughout the day, pupils mobbed her with hugs.
Callan, a former Miss Augusta who graduated from Greenbrier High School, said she also received congratulatory e-mails from teachers and staffers throughout the school system, including some who taught her while she was growing up.
Superintendent Charles Nagle said after the banquet that it is remarkable Callan, who is only in her fourth year of teaching, had earned such an honor. He said it was a testament to her upbringing.
"We all recognize the fact she is a product Columbia County and she's the product of a good family," he said. Callan's sister, Jessica, is a teacher at Bel Air Elementary.
River Ridge Principal Revelle Cox praised Callan for her skills as a teacher and for her ability to nurture her pupils.
"(She's) an absolutely spectacular teacher," Cox said. "She engages the children ... and the children are just sitting on the edge of their seat just waiting to see what she'll do next."
Callan will represent Columbia County for the statewide Teacher of the Year honors later this school year.
The winning teacher received a one-year lease of a Jaguar sedan. Ann Taylor, the owner of Ann Taylor Auto Group, presented Callan with a 2007 Jaguar S-Type.
Callan also received a package for Retreat Spa and Salon, of Evans, from the Columbia County Chamber of Commerce.
The other finalists for teacher of the year were:
Carole Ayers, a first-grade teacher at Evans Elementary; Amy Coleman, a first-grade teacher at Riverside Elementary; Jane ElLaissi, a seventh-grade science and social studies teacher at Riverside Middle; and Wendy Kersey, a North Harlem Elementary fourth-grade teacher.
Each of the system's 28 schools selected their candidates for teacher of the year honors. The five finalists were chosen by a panel of three outside judges.
The finalists were interviewed and observed by another panel of educators who selected the winner.
Also at Thursday night's banquet, Anna Olliff, of Evans Middle School, was recognized as the county's Media Specialist of the Year.
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