Compiled by Kathryn Schiliro, Managing Editor
With the beginning of the new school year last week, we present to you, reader, our annual tradition of meeting the county’s new teachers in print. Enjoy!
Morgan County Primary School
Sarah Ball will teach Pre-Kindergarten at Morgan County Primary.
Do you have prior experience in education? I’m a first-year teacher! I completed my student teaching in a kindergarten classroom in Clarke-County at J.J. Harris Elementary Charter School during the fall of 2011. After graduating, I married Sam Ball, we moved to Madison, and I began subbing at MCPS. I’ve done several long-term maternity leaves at the primary school and worked as a parapro there the last few months of the 2012-2013 school year. I feel blessed to be a part of the Morgan County School System, and I am thankful for the incredible teachers and administration at MCPS!
Where did you attend college? The University of Georgia– Go Dawgs!
Why did you decide to be a teacher? Coming from a small, close knit, community much like Morgan County (I grew up in Fitzgerald), I have realized that much of a student’s success can come from the influence of their teachers. I had many educators that were extremely passionate about their role as leaders. Those teachers that influenced me the most came to school every day because they cared. They wanted to see their students excel and achieve their dreams, and they made us believe that we could! They wanted to serve as positive role models. They wanted to share their fervor for obtaining a solid education. But not only an academic education– they taught real life lessons of confidence and determination. I love working with children and feel right at home in the classroom. It is my hope that I will be the teacher I described– just like the ones who molded me into the person I am today. My sweet mom was one of those teachers. She actually taught my Pre-K class 21 years ago. We’ve had fun looking back since I was hired on as a Pre-K teacher at MCPS.
What, specifically, is your favorite thing to teach? Language and literacy certainly fascinates me. We’ve had exceptional training and work closely with the Atlanta Speech School’s Rollins Center on a program called Read Right from the Start. I cannot wait to implement what I’ve learned from this program in my own classroom as I’ve seen the success students have had from it in language development, vocabulary, critical thinking.
What’s your favorite hands-on activity you use in your classroom? Pre-K is very hands-on and much learning is done through play and center-time. I have enjoyed setting up dramatic play, reading, writing, math, science, sensory table, art, music, blocks, and computer centers these past few weeks. We (Pre-K teachers) wrap up the centers with butcher paper so we can teach procedures and routines the first few days of school. The kids are so excited to “unwrap” the centers, and I am, too!
Morgan County Elementary School
Ty Snyder is the new principal of Morgan County Elementary School.
Do you have prior experience in education? Twenty-three years– 14 years as a music teacher in Thomaston, Logavnille and Dalton. and nine years in school administration at the middle school and elementary school levels
Where did you attend college? I earned my Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees from Jacksonville State University in Alabama and my Educational Specialist’s Degree from Lincoln Memorial University in Tennessee.
Why did you decide to be a teacher? To make a difference in the lives of students
If you were a teacher from a TV show or movie, who would you be and why? Mr. Kotter from “Welcome Back Kotter” because he cared for his students and wanted them to be successful.
What’s your favorite cafeteria food? Pizza
What, specifically, is your favorite thing to teach? Even though I was a music teacher, I love to teach about weather and history, especially the Civil War and World War II.
What’s your favorite hands-on activity you use in your classroom? I used to teach recorder (musical instrument) class to the entire sixth grade, which was quite an undertaking.
How do you plan on using technology in your classroom? I plan to use an educational website to lead online book studies with some of our teachers.
Melissa Ward will teach fourth grade Language Arts and Social Studies.
Do you have prior experience in education? I am beginning my 13th year of teaching. I taught 12 years in Newton County at Oak Hill Elementary School. While at Oak Hill, I taught third grade for nine years and fourth grade for three years.
Where did you attend college? I received my Bachelor’s degree from Georgia Southern University and my Master’s degree from Troy University.
Why did you decide to be a teacher? Ever since I was a little girl, I have always wanted to become a teacher. After a long day at school, you could find me in my bedroom teaching my stuffed animals and dolls. I remember watching my teachers throughout school and thinking that I wanted to be like them. I wanted to be the person responsible for those “light bulb” moments when a child finally grasps a concept.
If you were a teacher from a TV show or movie, who would you be and why? If I were a teacher from a TV show, I would be Charlie Brown’s teacher. Wouldn’t it be great to know what she has been saying to Charlie Brown all these years?
What’s your favorite cafeteria food? I would have to say that my favorite cafeteria food is soft tacos. At my old school, I would always get so excited for lunch on soft taco days.
What, specifically, is your favorite thing to teach? Wow. This is a hard question. I love teaching everything! One of my favorite things to teach is the Revolutionary War. The students always get so involved in learning about the different wars. I can’t wait to teach this topic this school year because I visited Valley Forge, Independence Hall and many other monumental places this past winter that I can share with the students.
What’s your favorite hands-on activity you use in your classroom? I have always felt that students learn better when they are more involved in their learning. When I taught a sound unit, the students made their own musical instruments. They then had to present the instrument to the class by discussing the science terms and concepts learned in the unit. This was one of the best hands-on activities because the students were so proud of the work that they accomplished.
How do you plan on using technology in your classroom? I love using technology! If you walked into my class and didn’t see technology, then it must be broken. One of the first things I do when planning a lesson is to find a technology activity to go along with the skill being taught. I love starting my lessons with a quick video clip to set up the concept. When using centers, there is always a Smart Board center and a computer center reinforcing the skill discussed that day or a review of previous skills learned. Throughout the year, you will find my students making PowerPoints to share what they have learned about a topic. Technology makes learning more fun for the students and even the teachers.
Morgan County Middle School
Callie Lankford will teach Agriculture at Morgan County Middle School.
Do you have prior experience in education? Yes, this will be my 11th year teaching. Have previously taught Agriculture Education in Houston County, Jones County and have been in Putnam County for the past seven years.
Where did you attend college? The University of Georgia
Why did you decide to be a teacher? I love agriculture and the FFA and was heavily involved in FFA when I was a high school student. I am thankful for the opportunities that FFA gave me as a student and I enjoy seeing students benefit from those same opportunities that I had.
What, specifically, is your favorite thing to teach? I really enjoy teaching animal science. Animals really seem to interest a great diversity of students and there are so many opportunities available within the animal science side of agriculture for FFA members.
What’s your favorite hands-on activity you use in your classroom? We are fortunate to have a greenhouse on the school campus. We will utilize that quite a bit for hands-on lab activities monitoring plant growth and our FFA chapter will hold a plant sale each semester.
How do you plan on using technology in your classroom? Agriculture involves the use of a lot of modern technology. I love having access to video clips that show how agriculture varies throughout our state and country.
Michele Brown Ramsey will be the new Morgan County Middle School Counselor.
Do you have prior experience in education? I have been a school counselor for 22 years and was a County Extension Home Economist with UGA prior to becoming a school counselor.
Where did you attend college? I have two degrees from UGA. My undergraduate degree is in Home Economics and Journalism, I earned my Master’s degree in school counseling from Georgia Southern University, and I earned a Specialist degree in school counseling from the University of Georgia.
Why did you decide to be a teacher? Honestly, Carolyn Ainslie suggested that I earn a degree in Home Economics at UGA, which led to my first job as a County Extension Agent. ( I had been an active 4-H’er in Morgan County while in middle school in Morgan County.) While I was working as a 4-H Agent in Statesboro, I attended a workshop for helping children who had parents deployed during Desert Storm. That is when I decided to pursue a career and Master’s degree in school counseling. I have always enjoyed working with people and being in a helping profession.
If you were a teacher from a TV show or movie, who would you be and why? I would probably want to be the school counselor on “GLEE!” Those kids have lots of talent and lots of issues!
What’s your favorite cafeteria food? Sweet, HOT cinnamon rolls
What, specifically, is your favorite thing to teach? CAREERS
What’s your favorite hands-on activity you use in your classroom? Interpersonal skills/effective communication
How do you plan on using technology in your classroom? Ga. College 411 website. School counselors help students complete at least two Georgia-defined career-related assessments before the end of grade eight as well as an Individual Graduation Plan.
She adds: “I am thrilled to be back in Morgan County. I have worked in Bulloch, Walton and Henry counties and am so excited to be back ‘home’ to finish my career. It is exciting to be back at MCMS where I attended as a student!”
Marsha Duggan will teach seventh grade Life Science at Morgan County Middle.
Do you have prior experience in education? Yes, long-term substituting in Morgan County Middle School.
Where did you attend college? Georgia Southern University– majored in Middle Grades Education
Why did you decide to be a teacher? I have a strong passion to care for and teach the middle school-aged child.
What’s your favorite cafeteria food? My favorite cafeteria food is the salad!
What, specifically, is your favorite thing to teach? I really enjoy teaching the human body!
How do you plan on using technology in your classroom? I am really excited to be able to use the netbooks, so every child will access to a computer during certain lessons and labs.
Rosilyn Hunt will teach seventh and eighth grade Support Services at Morgan County Middle.
Do you have prior experience in education? This is my 17th year. I have served in both middle schools and high schools in Walton and Wilkes counties. I taught three years here at the middle school and have returned to Morgan County after spending the last five years in Wilkes County.
Where did you attend college? Univerisity of Georgia
Why did you decide to be a teacher? My mother taught students with special needs, and I found that I wanted to help people and students that needed more than routine instruction and assistance with the skills that we take for granted.
If you were a teacher from a TV show or movie, who would you be and why? I would be Ms. Sue in “The Blind Side;” she was able to move mountains and help change a life in a way that is so obvious to all of us now as we watch the NFL Sundays and watch Michael Oher play for the Ravens.
What’s your favorite cafeteria food? French fries
What, specifically, is your favorite thing to teach? Language Arts: figurative language, Freytag’s triangle (plot diagram)
What’s your favorite hands-on activity you use in your classroom? Creating posters or shoebox stages which are representations of scenes, elements, characters
How do you plan on using technology in your classroom? Using the Smart Board to make real world connections as often as possible using videos and demonstrations
Tonja Jones Reid will teach collaborative Math and Language Arts to sixth graders at Morgan County Middle.
Do you have prior experience in education? I’ve taught all content areas in grades 3-8, including special education and gifted Language Arts classes.
Where did you attend college? I earned my Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees from the University of Georgia and my Specialist degree from Piedmont College.
Why did you decide to be a teacher? I come from a family of educators, so I guess you could say teaching is in my blood.
If you were a teacher from a TV show or movie, who would you be and why? If I were a teacher from a movie, it would be Sylvia Barrett from the movie based on the novel “Up the Down Staircase” by Bel Kaufman. This is my favorite novel about teaching. Even though it was written almost 50 years ago, some of the challenges relating to bureaucracy and students are still relevant.
What’s your favorite cafeteria food? My favorite cafeteria food is the same as my third grade son’s– pizza.
What, specifically, is your favorite thing to teach? I love teaching figurative language. It allows students to be very creative and expand their leaning not only through writing, but it helps improve comprehension when they read. It also allows students to be very innovative when they are developing finished products to showcase the skills and knowledge they have acquired.
Danielle Bruce will be teaching sixth grade Language Arts.
Do you have prior experience in education? I taught seventh grade at Social Circle Middle School for seven years. I taught Language Arts, Reading, and Social Studies.
Where did you attend college? I attended State University of West Georgia and transferred to Georgia College and State University to finish my Bachelor’s degree in 2006. I completed my Master’s degree through Walden University in 2008.
Why did you decide to be a teacher? I have always known that I wanted to be a teacher mainly because I really wanted to make a difference in the lives of children. Some of the best teachers have shaped my life, and I wanted to be that for someone else.
What’s your favorite cafeteria food? I love the grilled cheese sandwiches!
What, specifically, is your favorite thing to teach? I enjoy teaching students writing and how writing can be so instrumental in their lives. Most students think of writing as boring, but writing can be interesting, fun, and entertaining.
How do you plan on using technology in your classroom? This year, I am really trying to allow more students to publish their writing in digital forms. At a conference this summer, I learned how to incorporate writing with digital storytelling. The kids will enjoy being able to share their writing using other forms besides a written essay.
Morgan County High School
Stephen (Steve) Arnold will teach 10-12 graders: Web Design, Advanced Web, Intro to Digital Technology, Business Communication & Presentation. One Intro to Digital Technology is primarily ninth graders.
Do you have prior experience in education? I am a first-year teacher (but taught various classes in the corporate world).
Where did you attend college? Golden Gate University (California) undergrad and UGA for Master’s
Why did you decide to be a teacher? Have always enjoyed the teaching aspects of the jobs I held in the private sector.
If you were a teacher from a TV show or movie, who would you be and why? The teacher from “October Sky” (Miss Riley) because she encouraged her students to discover their passions and follow their dreams.
What’s your favorite cafeteria food? Probably have to say hamburgers or hot dogs
What, specifically, is your favorite thing to teach? I enjoy incorporating employability skills in all my classes – things businesses are looking for when they hire new employees.
What’s your favorite hands-on activity you use in your classroom? Doing projects with our computer systems
How do you plan on using technology in your classroom? All my classes are computer labs so we have the opportunity to access the newest technology available on the internet plus state of the art classroom technology (like Smart Boards).
Mrs. Ashley Wegmann will teach ninth grade Literature and Composition in the high school’s Freshman Academy.
Do you have prior experience in education? This will be my 11th year teaching English to high school students. I enjoyed teaching at Winder-Barrow High School for 10 years. While at WBHS, I taught ninth grade Literature and Composition, 10th grade Literature and Composition, as well as American Literature and Composition. I have experience teaching in collaborative classes as well as honors level classes.
Where did you attend college? I started my undergraduate studies at UGA in 2000 and earned my Bachelor’s degree in English Education from UGA in 2004. I also earned my Master’s in English Education from UGA in 2010.
Why did you decide to be a teacher? I was lucky to have some very influential teachers when I was in high school. Specifically, my American Literature teacher had a way of making literature relevant. She showed us how to make connections between our readings and our lives, allowing me to see the function of reading in a new way. Her positive influence in my life made me want to create a classroom community that provided students with the same opportunities to make connections.
If you were a teacher from a TV show or movie, who would you be and why? This was difficult. I grew up in the ’90s so of course I watched shows like “Saved by the Bell.” I remember thinking Miss Bliss, the featured teacher on the show during the group’s middle school years, was the kindest teacher. She not only had a way of making learning come to life, but she also found ways to incorporate character development within her instruction. The students respected her because they knew that she cared and would only accept their very best. I also cannot leave out Mr. Keating, the charismatic teacher in the movie “Dead Poets Society.” He had a way of using literature to push his students to question the world around them. Mr. Keating also encouraged students to broaden their horizons and become critical thinkers– two things I always consider when I am choosing reading selections and developing assessments.
What, specifically, is your favorite thing to teach? One of my favorite things to teach is the Shakespearean play “Romeo and Juliet.” I love the challenge of making a play that was written in the late 1500s relevant and intriguing to ninth grade English students. Ninth graders can learn so much from Shakespeare’s creative use of language as well as the universal themes that are still poignant for 21st century learners. I try to make “Romeo and Juliet” come to life with lessons that encourage students to use the language of Shakespeare in a humorous context. I also love to have students act out important parts of the play using simple props and costumes.
What’s your favorite hands-on activity you use in your classroom? One of my favorite hands-on activities occurs at the beginning of the year. I have students create an identity bag. In order for me to get to know my students, I ask them to fill a bag with artifacts that represent who they are. These objects can be as literal or abstract as needed, but they must reveal how they are unique individuals. I make sure I create a bag also so that students get to know me. Students present their identity bags to the class, showing their artifacts and explaining what it reveals about them. This activity is a fantastic way for me to learn what matters to my students so that I can use this knowledge when I am choosing reading selections and creating assessments. It also provides me with an opportunity to discuss with students how to be an effective presenter and listener in my class.
Merritt Ainslie will teach high school Special Education (self-contained classroom).
Do you have prior experience in education? I was a paraprofessional at Morgan County Middle School last year (Special Education self-contained classroom).
Where did you attend college? North Georgia College and State University for undergraduate. The University of Georgia for Master’s.
Why did you decide to be a teacher? I love working with young adults. I taught soldiers military skills for eight years while in the Army and helping shape their lives was enjoyable and is something that I felt came naturally to me. I always wanted to give back to my community in some capacity and my experiences have led me back to teaching high school in my hometown.
What, specifically, is your favorite thing to teach? I am a teacher of students with mild to severe cognitive disabilities so my favorite things to teach them are life skills that help them become more independent after high school.
What’s your favorite hands-on activity you use in your classroom? My class operates a school based coffee shop that teaches vocational skills to include but are not limited to: • Restocking • Greeting customers • Making eye contact • Operating a cash register • Interview skills • Conversational skills • Delivering coffee • Following written and verbal multi-step directions • Counting money and making change • Following a recipe • Dressing for work
The rationale is to: • Teach students transitional work skills in a safe environment. • Provide opportunities in high school for students with disabilities to interact with their regular education peers. • Provide an avenue to involve students with disabilities as a vital and integral part of the high school.
Not only are students learning valuable vocational skills, but the program aims to instill four core values: • Promptness/time management • Responsibility • Initiative • A “Can-Do” Attitude
Meet the New Teachers
There are 16 new certified employees in the Morgan County School System this school year, with the majority of them going to the middle and high schools. Here are the county’s newest teachers and their positions at-a-glance.
Sarah Ball Pre-K at Morgan County Primary School
Ann Leighton Jackson First grade at Morgan County Primary School
Melissa Ward Fourth grade at Morgan County Elementary School
Ty Snyder Principal at Morgan County Elementary School
Danielle Bruce Language Arts at Morgan County Middle School
Marsha Duggan Science at Morgan County Middle School
Rosilyn Hunt Special Education at Morgan County Middle School
Callie Lankford Agriculture at Morgan County Middle School
Brittany Murphy Gifted at Morgan County Middle School
Michele Ramsey Counselor at Morgan County Middle School
Tonja Reid Special Education at Morgan County Middle School
Merritt Ainslie Special Education at Morgan County High School
Stephen Arnold Business Education at Morgan County High School
Louise Chapman Mathematics at Morgan County High School
Ashley Wegmann English at Morgan County High School
Scott Wofford Mathematics at Morgan County High School