(Media release from Rome City Schools):

It was a special day as first graders gathered in the Elm Street Elementary media center on Tuesday March 29.

Under the assumption that they would be meeting a special guest from the Red Cross, the children waited eagerly on the carpet, only to find out that they were actually there to celebrate their teacher, Ashley Anglin, for being a top ten finalist for 2023 Georgia Teacher of the Year.

Several special guests were present including State Superintendent Richard Woods, RCS Superintendent Louis Byars, Associate Superintendent Dr. Dawn Williams, RCS board members Jill Fisher and Alvin Jackson, and even members of Anglin’s family.

Byars smiled as he spoke directly to the kids, “We know she’s the best in the state, don’t we? But it’s nice when other people see the great things she’s doing. We are so proud of Ms. Anglin and we’re proud to have her as part of Elm Street and Rome City Schools.”

Much to their astonishment, Woods explained to the children that there are about 2,300 schools in the state of Georgia.

“To put this in perspective,” he told them, “there are 110,000 teachers in the whole state of Georgia and she’s in the top ten. It’s a very big deal. She represents the best of the best.”

Woods presented Anglin with a Distinguished Award medal as he congratulated her. “Obviously you can see the passion,” he told her, “it spills out as you go above and beyond, and that’s why you are where you are. Congratulations on a job well done.”

Anglin expressed her gratitude for all the love and support shown to her by her Elm Street and RCS family.

“It has been unreal and amazing,” Anglin said. “Everybody at Elm Street and in Rome City have been so supportive.”

Even her black Suburban received a supportive makeover complete with a “honk if you love teachers” message across the back, which offered her support all the way to her interview in Atlanta.

The top ten finalists met with a panel of judges this month for formal interviews and speeches.

Anglin explained that she spent a full day in Atlanta on Friday March 25, with the other nine finalists as they completed various interviews and each presented speeches about why they felt that public education was important.

Anglin used her three-minute speech time to talk about some of her students at Elm Street. She explained things about her students that recognized and celebrated their resilience, their innocence, and their empathy. She spoke of the relationships that are fostered within the Elm Street family as faculty and staff prioritize trust, connection and compassion with students and their families.

In her speech, Anglin said, “If schools are a home, then the people in the school create a family. We work together with the common goal of doing what is best for each and every child. At Elm Street, some teachers walk the neighborhood after school to visit with students and their families. These trusting relationships and connections are essential for learning to take place in our children.”

The celebratory ceremony was complete with a video affectionately put together by her Elm Street family that featured clips of student testimonials, photos of Anglin in creative costume, and clips of songs that she crafted for her students.

Cupcakes were offered to the students and guests and Byars presented Anglin with a colorful bouquet of flowers.

“We’re proud of all of our teachers but we’re exceptionally proud of this honor for Ashley and for our school family, especially coming after a really challenging year and a half,” Principal Laura Walley said. “It really shows the resilience of classroom teachers, and we could not have picked a better person to represent Elm Street and Rome City schools. Ashley is kind and humble and very creative in the classroom. So we are excited no matter what the outcome is.”

The Teacher of the Year winner will be announced on April 30, 2022, at the Teacher Gala in LaGrange, Ga.

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.