Allison Kerley Townsend, a third-grade teacher at Barnwell Elementary School in Fulton County, is the 2019 Georgia Teacher of the Year, State School Superintendent Richard Woods announced Saturday night. As Georgia Teacher of the Year, Townsend will serve as an advocate for public education in Georgia.
“It is very clear to me that Allison Kerley Townsend is a teacher who walks into her classroom every day with her focus in exactly the right place: what do these students in front of me need to learn, and how can I help them learn it?” State School Superintendent Richard Woods said. “Then she brings all of her creativity, ingenuity and skill to the fore to accomplish that goal. I am honored to recognize her as the 2019 Georgia Teacher of the Year and look forward to working with her to tell the best story I know – the story of Georgia’s public schools, and the lives changing within them every single day.”
Townsend graduated from Clemson University in 2012 with a bachelor’s degree in elementary education. Since then, she has taught Pre-K, third-, fourth-, and fifth-grade students.
As a teacher, Townsend strives to give each child a voice in their learning, and inspires them to grow beyond “engagement” to “ownership.” She came away from her time as a Pre-K teacher with the conviction that all children start out as curious and excited learners, and that her goal as an educator should be to nurture their passion for learning.
“Some people believe that children are the ‘leaders of tomorrow,’” Townsend said. “I like to challenge this idea. We cannot ignore the incredible impact children can have on the world today, if we let them. My mission is to help students take ownership of their learning and have an impact beyond the classroom…whether they are Skyping a scientist across the country, blogging about how they believe we should combat pollution, or sharing the inspiring music videos we create as a class.”
Townsend is also dedicated to having an impact on students and teachers beyond her own classroom and making her mark on education at the global level. From presenting at conferences to using Twitter as a window into her classroom, she has made connections with educators all over the world.
“I have helped a teacher in North Carolina design an authentic project-based learning unit for her students based on nutrition and fractions,” Townsend said. “I have Skyped with a teacher in Virginia to teach him how to implement student-led conferences. I have even had a teacher across the world in Vietnam reach out to me to let me know that she shared my students’ personal mission statements with her class, and that inspired them to write their own, too. I am passionate about inspiring students and teachers around the world and believe that our impact does not have to wait for ‘tomorrow.’ Every single one of us can help change the world today.”
As Georgia Teacher of the Year, Townsend will represent Georgia teachers by speaking to the public about the teaching profession and potentially conducting workshops and programs for educators. She will also participate in the competitive selection process for the 2019 National Teacher of the Year.
2019 Georgia Teacher of the Year Finalists
Allison Kerley Townsend, 2019 Georgia Teacher of the Year, third grade, Barnwell Elementary School, Fulton County Schools
Maleah Stewart, speech-language pathologist, 2019 Runner-Up, North Forsyth Middle School, Forsyth County Schools
Shaylen Dixon, third grade, Peachtree City Elementary School, Fayette County Schools
Dr. Doug Doblar, fourth and fifth grade mathematics and science, R.D. Head Elementary School, Gwinnett County Schools
Dr. Stefan Lawrence, English, George Washington Carver High School, Muscogee County Schools
Nancy Rogers, English, Thomas County Middle School, Thomas County Schools
Ike Thompson, English/gifted, Veterans High School, Houston County Schools
Melanie Thompson, science, Georgia Academy for the Blind, State Schools
Stephanie Vidrine, mathematics, Woodstock Middle School, Cherokee County Schools
Kayla Yeargin, mathematics, Troup High School, Troup County Schools
*Other than the Teacher of the Year and Runner-Up, finalists are listed in alphabetical order by last name