Columbia County Teacher of the Year Michele Rigsby said Monday that she doesn't regret losing the state Teacher of the Year honor to Colquitt County educator Gwen Desselle.
A 32-year veteran social studies teacher at Colquitt County High School, Desselle was selected for the state title at a banquet Friday at the Georgia Aquarium.
"I thought that she was such a role model and someone to aspire to be," Rigsby said. "She's been teaching for a long time, and she's still passionate about her kids and about education."
As the Georgia Teacher of Year, Desselle will represent the state for the national title and spend the next school year serving as an advocate for public education and the teaching profession.
Rigsby, a fourth-grade teacher at Bel Air Elementary School, said that had she won the state title, she would have had misgivings about spending a year on the road.
"It's a double-edged sword," she said. "It would have been a great opportunity, but I would have had to leave the classroom, and that's where my heart is."
Rigsby said she and the other state finalists will serve on an advisory board to state school Superintendent Kathy Cox.
"That will be a lot of fun," she said. "Our voice will be heard on all sorts of education issues."
Though she called it a "tremendous honor" to be a finalists, she said she was most overwhelmed at winning her school's Teacher of the Year title.
"People think that the further along in the process you get the bigger of an honor it is, and it is a big honor, but to me the biggest was being named Teacher of the Year at my school," she said. "These are my peers and the people that I teach with every day."
Rigsby said she left Atlanta without a state title, but came home with something else.
"The banquet was an evening to celebrate education and educators across the state, and I did just that," she said. "I think everyone left inspired about the impact that educators have every day."
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