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9-19-06 Jennifer Dawson (OCHS 89) Named Teacher of Year in Cobb County

Marietta Daily Journal 9-19-06 Ms. Dawson, 35, a sixth-grade social studies teacher, didn't know she won until she spotted Superintendent Fred Sanderson and Post 1 school board member Lindsey Tippins in the school's theater Monday morning, along with the entire sixth-grade class.


September 19, 2006   


Jennifer Dawson (OCHS 89) Named Teacher of Year in Cobb County   

By Wendell Dawson, Editor, AVOC, Inc.  


Jennifer Dawson was named Teacher of Year in Cobb County yesterday.  She is a 1989 Graduate of Oconee County High School and has many friends here.  

Her story is on the Front Page of today's Marietta Daily Journal.  


Cobb County School District Statistics:   

106,000      Students  

 8,000         Teachers 

107             Schools   

 Jennifer’s parents, Wendell & Betty Dawson, of Watkinsville, GA, attended the event for the announcement.  

Sept2006/JMDDistrictTOY91806.jpg   JMD.District.TOY.Students.Aud.9.18.06.Red.jpg      Sept2006/JMD.Wtd.Bpd.District.TOY.9.18.06.jpg

Sept2006/JMD.Mtta.Journal.9.19.06.jpg      Sept2006/JMD.District.ToY.Officials.Jmd.9.18.06.jpg   JMD.District.ToY.Supt.Officials.9.18.06.Red.jpg

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution  

September 19, 2006 


Teacher of the year                      FRANK NIEMEIR/Staff 

Lost Mountain Middle School teacher Jennifer Dawson is hugged by her father Wendell Dawson from Watkinsville after Jennifer was named Cobb County's Teacher of the Year by Cobb Superintendent Fred Sanderson at the school in Kennesaw on Monday.  

The Marietta Daily Journal http://www.mdjonline.com/268/10231741.txt

 September 19, 2006      


Jennifer Dawson 9.18.06   

She lives for her job.      

 By Jon Gillooly

Marietta Daily Journal Staff Writer

KENNESAW - Lost Mountain Middle School teacher Jennifer Dawson edged out nominees from Shallowford Elementary and Harrison High schools, earning Cobb's 2006-2007 Teacher of the Year honor in a surprise ceremony Monday.

Ms. Dawson, 35, a sixth-grade social studies teacher, didn't know she won until she spotted Superintendent Fred Sanderson and Post 1 school board member Lindsey Tippins in the school's theater Monday morning, along with the entire sixth-grade class.

"It's a little intimidating," Ms. Dawson said of earning the top honor among Cobb's 7,500 teachers.  























Yet students and colleagues say she deserves it.

Sixth-grade English teacher Donna Williams says teaching means everything to Ms. Dawson.

"She lives for her job," said Ms. Williams, who is in her fourth year teaching at Lost Mountain. "Her happiest day of the year is a school day, and the saddest day for her is the last day of school. While everybody else is saying 'Yes! It's over!' she comes in depressed on the last day."

Lost Mountain mother Robin Fleming said having Ms. Dawson teach her now eighth-grade son social studies two years ago opened his eyes to the world.

"I truly believe she's the one who really got him so excited about the world and what's out there," said Ms. Fleming, who serves as the school's Parent-Teacher-Student Association chairwoman for hospitality.

Sanderson said one of the things he admires about Ms. Dawson is that she didn't take the traditional path to becoming a teacher.

"It sends a message out there that you can change careers, and you can go into
teaching and be very good at it, and she's a great example of that," Sanderson said. 


Born in Athens, after graduating from Mercer University Ms. Dawson went to work for a faith-based program in Decatur, where she worked with Hmong immigrants, a nomadic tribe that lives in Thailand and Laos and helped the U.S. during the Vietnam War.

She began teaching at Lost Mountain in 2000.

Her secret is making the subject relevant to her young students. When it came time to teach students about Australia, she incorporated the death of one of her students' heroes - Crocodile Hunter Steve Irwin - in the lesson.

"They could relate to that," she said. "It mattered. If it's not relevant, who cares?"

Eighth-grader Glenn Shrum, 13, says while some classes bore him, Ms. Dawson's social studies class keeps him interested.

"Rather than have to do a bunch of worksheets, we did more hands-on sort of things, and it kind of made it more fun," Shrum said.

It also helps that she cares about her students, he said.

"She likes to get involved with what her students do. For instance, if a student is doing something outside of school she'll tend to try to get involved or be there or give them some help," she said.

Ms. Dawson said while the Teacher of the Year distinction is special, helping students is her greatest reward.

"The kids are what it's about for me," Ms. Dawson said. "Seeing kids get excited; seeing my kids excel. This is overwhelming. This is a great honor, but in a way seeing my kids excel and reach new heights is more rewarding."

Ms. Dawson was a member of the 2005 Goethe Institute Transatlantic Outreach Fellowship, which took her to Germany to study with other social studies teachers, district spokesman Doug Goodwin said.

She has presented workshops at the Georgia Council for Social Studies annual conference for the past three summers and was selected by the district to attend "History Alive!" coach training in San Diego last July. She also serves as a Relay for Life team captain at Lost Mountain and sponsors the Helping Hands community service club, Goodwin said.

Tippins spoke of how Ms. Dawson kept returning to her students in her acceptance speech Monday.

"I think that's what really makes and distinguishes a good teacher," Tippins said. "Our core business is educating students, and if we take our eye off that ball and concentrate on other things other than the education of individual students, we're going to miss the mark, but she obviously has her eye on the ball, and she's been justly rewarded for being an excellent teacher."

Lost Mountain, which opened in 1991, has an enrollment of 1,162 students and about 80 teachers, said Principal Dr. Terry Poor.

Shallowford's Paul DeVigne, Cobb's Elementary School Teacher of the Year; and Harrison's Denease McCullough, Cobb's High School Teacher of the Year, also were nominated for the district Teacher of the Year award.