Langston Chapel Middle School Special Education teacher Jemelleh Coes returned to class Monday after being named Georgia Teacher of the Year over the weekend. But the shock had not gone away.
"When he called my name, I froze," she admitted. "It took the lady next to me hugging to get me up and headed toward the stage."
Coes, a graduate of Georgia Southern University, has been teaching just five years. She knows some of her fellow teachers were in the classroom before she was born.
"Those are the people I learn from every day," she acknowledged.
Her principal and superintendent took time Monday to praise her recognition.
"From the time I came to this school, she's had a smile," noted principal Dr. Bonnie Gamble. "She is diligent and energetic. She gives 150 percent every day."
In addition to her classroom responsibilities, Coes heads up an after-school program for 100 at-risk students at Langston Chapel. Plus, she volunteers as a mentor to middle school girls two Saturdays a month through the Delta Academy program.
"She's taken a love for people and translated that into the classroom," added Bulloch County superintendent Charles Wilson. "She has made learning relevant to students and she doesn't back down from a challenge."
In July, she begins a 12 month sabbatical from the classroom as she travels across Georgia and beyond.
"My students have told me I can't leave, but I explained why I was doing it and how it can help students in the future," she noted. "I'm excited about the travel because I feel I have a message about community and students and engagement. I feel like we can bring Georgia together, not just Atlanta and the rest of the state, but one Georgia."
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