RCPS Jesse Smith named Georgia Teacher of the Year finalist



CONYERS, GA – Jesse Smith, a manufacturing and computer science teacher at Rockdale Career Academy, was named a top ten finalist for Georgia Teacher of the Year.

“We are elated to have Mr. Smith recognized by the state as a Teacher of the Year finalist,” said Rockdale County Public Schools(RCPS) SuperintendentTerry Oatts. “His earnest passion for teaching students and building foundational relationships in order to equip students for life-long success is truly exemplary. We wish him well as the selection process continues for the Georgia Teacher of the Year.”

Smith, a product of RCPS and a graduate of Rockdale Magnet School for Science and Technology, is a UGA “Triple Dawg” with a University of Georgia Bachelor’s in Computer Science, Master’s in Workforce Education, and Specialist’s degree in Workforce Education. He began his teaching career at RCPS and is currently in his ninth year of teaching at Rockdale Career Academy as the manufacturing career pathway and computer science career pathway instructor. He also serves as a robotics coach, SkillsUSA Advisor, and supervises a school-based enterprise as part of the Work Based Learning program. He and his wife Tiffany enjoy hiking state parks with their dogs and cheering on the Braves and UGA Dawgs.

The finalists were chosen from a pool of applicants all previously selected as their school district’s Teacher of the Year. The applications were read by a panel of judges that included teachers, past Georgia Teacher of the Year winners, state and local administrators, community leaders, and others.

“The 10 finalists for Georgia’s next Teacher of the Year represent the very best of our state’s public education system,” said State Superintendent Richard Woods. “They are hardworking, innovative, skilled, and – most importantly – focused first and foremost on students. I am immensely proud of each of them and honored to recognize them as finalists.”

The top 10 finalists will meet with a panel of judges this month for formal interviews and speeches. The winner will be announced on April 30, 2022.

The 2023 Georgia Teacher of the Year will serve as an ambassador for the teaching profession in Georgia and will be entered in the National Teacher of the Year competition. Georgia Teacher of the Year operates one year ahead to align with the national program; the 2023 Teacher of the Year will serve from July 1, 2022 to June 30, 2023. The 2022 Georgia Teacher of the Year is Cherie Bonder Goldman of Savannah-Chatham County Public Schools.

For more about the Georgia Teacher of the Year program, visit https://www.gadoe.org/External-Affairs-and-Policy/Excellence-Recognition/Pages/Georgia-Teacher-of-the-Year-Program.aspx.

2023 Georgia Teacher of the Year Finalists (in alphabetical order by last name): 

Ashley Anglin, First Grade Teacher, Elm Street Elementary School, Rome City Schools

Katlyn Blum, Second Grade Teacher, Sugar Hill Elementary Schools, Gwinnett County Public Schools

Julie Caraballo, Seventh Grade Language Arts Teacher, J.R. Trippe Middle School, Vidalia City Schools

Laura Floryance, First Grade Teacher, Sawyer Road Elementary School, Marietta City Schools

Susan Howard, K-5 STEM Teacher, Lanier School for Inquiry, Investigation, and Innovation, Hall County Schools

Vicki Knox, Fifth Grade Mathematics Teacher, Deer Chase Elementary School, Richmond County School System

Michael Kobito, AP Music Theory Teacher and High School Band Director, Woodland High School, Bartow County School System

Chelsea Leming, Fifth Grade Teacher, Indian Knoll Elementary School, Cherokee County School District

Lisa Seegar, Fifth Grade Science Teacher, Britt David Magnet Academy, Muscogee County School District

Jesse Smith, CTAE Teacher, Rockdale Career Academy, Rockdale County Public Schools



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