Deal names fifth-round Innovation in Teaching winners

January 6, 2015

Gov. Nathan Deal today announced five winners in round five of the Innovation in Teaching Competition, a recognition and reward opportunity for teachers who demonstrate innovative teaching strategies for the Georgia standards in English/Language Arts and Mathematics. Round five focused on rewarding innovative secondary and special education teachers. The competition is available through Georgia’s Innovation Fund, a competitive grant program. 

“The Innovation in Teaching Competition recognizes and rewards Georgia’s most outstanding teachers,” said Deal. “Creating an innovative classroom environment depends on the empowerment and support of high-quality instructors, and schools across the state will benefit from the best practices shared by these five deserving winners. To continue building upon the strong legacy of the Innovation in Teaching competition, I encourage education leaders to submit the names of teachers who fit the ideals and criteria of the competition to the Governor’s Office of Student Achievement.”

Each teacher will receive a $2,000 stipend and each teacher’s school will receive a $5,000 grant for implementation of Georgia’s instructional standards. In addition, Georgia Public Broadcasting will film the winning educators teaching in their classrooms in winter and spring 2015, as well as interview them about how they prepared the featured units. The videos, along with the educators’ supplementary materials, will be made available to other educators, parents, institutions of higher education and other stakeholders. The videos, unit plans and supplementary materials from the first four rounds of winners are currently available on  and iTunesU.

The five winners in round five, along with the grade level and subject area(s) of each winning unit, are listed below.

Ashley Bailey
Sixth Grade, Mathematics
Bear Creek Middle School
Barrow County Schools
Debbie Chrzanowski
Kindergarten, Special Education, English Language Arts, Mathematics, and Science
Baker Elementary School
Cobb County School District
Melanie Hartfield
Fifth Grade, Special Education, English Language Arts, Mathematics, Science, and Social Studies
Unity Grove Elementary School
Henry County Schools
Jerry Knox
10th-12th Grades, Mathematics and Science
Academy of Richmond County
Richmond County School System
Jamie McFarland
Kindergarten-Second Grades, Special Education, English Language Arts, Mathematics, Science, and Social Studies
Rock Springs Elementary School
Gwinnett County Public Schools

Information about the winners of rounds one through four can be found on the Governor’s Office of Student Achievement’s website.

Principals, assistant principals, instructional coaches, district staff representing schools around the state, as well as Georgia Department of Education Teacher and Leader Effectiveness, School Improvement and Curriculum staff, nominated teachers for round five of the Innovation in Teaching Competition this fall. 

The Innovation Fund began as a $19.4 million fund under Georgia’s Race to the Top plan. During Race to the Top, the Innovation Fund provided 23 grants to programs focused on providing applied learning opportunities to students, creating teacher and leader induction programs, growing the teacher and leader pipeline, and developing or expanding charter schools. Most of these grantees will receive grant funds through June 30. To continue the Innovation Fund’s work beyond Race to the Top, Deal included $5 million in his Fiscal Year 2015 budget that the General Assembly approved. In December, Deal awarded 18 grants to school districts, nonprofit organizations and institutions of higher education focused on planning, implementing and scaling programs aligned with one or more of the following priority areas: applied learning with a focus on STEM (science, technology, engineering and math), development and replication of blended learning school models, and teacher and leader induction and development. The state will also seek contributions from philanthropic organizations, nonprofits and businesses as a continuing source of start-up capital for promising innovations. More information about the Innovation Fund can be found on the Governor’s Office of Student Achievement’s website.