In a sanctuary overflowing with family members, friends, and colleagues of the 34 school level Teachers of the Year, Lauren Cook, 4th grade teacher from Arbor Station Elementary, was named the 2017 Douglas County Teacher of the Year at Central Baptist Church on September 28.
The 2017 Teachers of the Year for High School and Middle School were also announced at the ceremony. Roxanne Purcell, 6th grade math teacher from Turner Middle School, was selected as Middle School Teacher of the Year, and Jeremy Anderson, math teacher at Chapel Hill High School, was selected as High School Teacher of the Year.
All 34 Teachers of the Year were introduced at the ceremony and showered with gifts from area businesses.
Lauren Cook, Arbor Station Elementary School
Teacher of the Year Lauren Cook is a product of the Douglas County School System. She attended Arbor Station Elementary School, Chapel Hill Middle School, and graduated from Douglas County High School. Ms. Cook received her undergraduate degree in Early Childhood Education from the University of West Georgia. She received her master’s degree in Curriculum and Instruction with an emphasis in Leadership from the University of Colorado. In 2009 she added a Reading Endorsement to her teaching certificate.
Ms. Cook is currently in her 18th year of teaching. She taught a K-1-2 multiage class for two years in Colorado at Ft. Carson and 1st grade for an additional five years in Colorado. After those seven years of teaching, she took three years off to move back to Georgia and stay home to raise her family. Ms. Cook began teaching again in 2006 as a half time reading teacher at Eastside Elementary School in Douglasville. In 2007 she went back to teaching full time at Eastside as a Title I reading teacher. In 2009 she was honored as Eastside’s Teacher of the Year.
In 2013 Ms. Cook transferred to her elementary alma mater, Arbor Station Elementary School. “I feel blessed to be in the position to teach, love and impact such a diverse and talented group of students,” said Ms. Cook.
Members of the selection committee remarked, “We loved this teacher’s enthusiasm in the classroom and how students were so absorbed in their learning.”
Ms. Cook has been married to Chapel Hill High School social studies teacher Jonathan Cook for over 20 years and they have two sons.
Roxanne Purcell, Turner Middle School
Middle School Teacher of the Year Roxanne Purcell received her bachelor’s degree from the University of Nebraska at Omaha in 1994 and her teaching certificate in Middle Grades Mathematics and Social Studies from the University of West Georgia in 2011. She currently teaches 6th grade mathematics at Turner Middle School.
Ms. Purcell’s professional interests include vocabulary instruction and differentiating mathematics for at-risk students, especially English language learners and students with disabilities. She is the 6th Grade Department Chair at Turner Middle School. She serves as coach for the Turner Middle School Math team, which has been the Douglas County Middle School Mathematics Overall Champions for two consecutive years, including 2015-2016 and 2016-2017; as well as the 6th Grade Mathematics Champions in 2014 – 2015 and 2016 – 2017. She served as chair of Turner Middle School’s annual United Way Campaign during 2014 – 2015 and 2015 – 2016, and as co-chair in 2016 – 2017. Ms. Purcell also works as an after-school mathematics tutor for the FOCUS 21st Century Grant Program.
Ms. Purcell volunteered extensively at her children’s schools when they were younger, including serving as PTO president of her children’s middle school for five years. “It was this volunteer work that made me realize how much I enjoyed working with middle school students,” said Ms. Purcell. Most recently, while her daughter was enrolled at Georgia Tech, Ms. Purcell volunteered with the Parents Program during Freshman Orientation Week. Additionally, she has served as secretary and social director of her homeowners association board.
A member of the selection committee commented, “This is a teacher who truly cares about making sure every door is open for every child.”
Jeremy Anderson, Chapel Hill High School
Jeremy Anderson, High School Teacher of the Year, grew up in Middleburg, FL, in a large family of eight where each person’s name started with the letter J. His family moved to Douglasville where he and his siblings attended the new Alexander High School. After graduation, Mr. Anderson enrolled in the University of West Georgia and majored in Computer Information Systems.
While attending classes at West Georgia, Mr. Anderson worked full time as a store manager for a pager company. He loved working with the newest technology and the store he managed transitioned from pagers to cell phones. While working as a store manager, Mr. Anderson created a game store business, which soon became his full time job. He owned one of the largest card game shops in west Georgia and hosted events that brought in numerous participants from all over the state. “It was at this shop where I developed a love of teaching others,” said Mr. Anderson.
After five years of owning his own business, Mr. Anderson realized that in order to raise a family with his new bride Lisa Anderson, he needed a more stable schedule. One of his former employees introduced him to the principal of Herschel Jones Middle School. Mr. Anderson entered an alternative teaching program at Georgia State University and taught middle school as a special education and math teacher. Wanting to work closer to home, he later switched to Chapel Hill High School where he has spent the last nine years teaching math and facilitating the use of technology for both students and teachers alike.
A selection committee member said, “Mr. Anderson has taken technology to a new level. He has shown his students how to apply real world situations through math.”
Teacher of the Year Semi-Finalists
In addition to the three finalists, five other teachers were named semi-finalists in August and were honored at the Teacher of the Year celebration.
Joseph Bogozan began teaching in 2002 and currently instructs 5th grade at Bright Star Elementary. He mentors boys in 3rd – 5th grade through the Boys to Men Club which he founded at Bright Star.
Lonnie Woods teachers 5th grade at Burnett Elementary School. Before Burnett, he spent time teaching English, math, and science in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. Mr. Woods established and chairs the intramural sports program and the “About Face” boys mentoring group at Burnett.
Anisa Lucas-Grant teaches language arts at Chestnut Log Middle School where she serves as team leader for 6th grade. Ms. Lucas-Grant believes that as an educator, she helps her students develop goals, morals, and ethics that are followed throughout life.
Teacher Sarah Anthony pioneered the Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) program at Mason Creek Elementary School. She has organized Mason Creek’s Science Fair for the past three years and also has helped student prepare for the science fair in a science club after school.
Richard Parham is a law enforcement instructor at Alexander High School. He is one of 20 Career Technical and Agricultural Education (CTAE) teachers from across Georgia selected for the LEAD CTAE program.
The 2017 Teacher of the Year selection process began last May when each school selected a Teacher of the Year. The 34 teachers attended an informational meeting in late May and completed an extensive application over the summer. A group of 16 judges read and scored the applications, with eight teachers being named semi-finalists. The semi-finalists were observed by the judges in their classrooms and individually interviewed.
As 2017-2018 Douglas County Teacher of the Year, Ms. Cook will now compete for 2019 Georgia Teacher of the Year.