TIFTON - Ten local teachers got a surprise Monday when Tift County Foundation for Educational Excellence board members, School Superintendent Harold Abbott and other school officials came to their classrooms to let them know they were Excellence in Teaching winners. The foundation presents the awards on the Monday of American Education Week every November.

"It makes all that hard work and all those long afternoons when I stayed late worth it," said math teacher Claire Youngblood, one of the winners. Youngblood, a sixth-grade math teacher at Charles Spencer Elementary School, began to cry when she realized why the visitors were in her classroom. Her students clapped as TCFEE board member Tammy Griffin presented the certificate.

"I just do my job, but I love it," Youngblood said.

Other 2003 winners were Rhonda White, a fifth-grade teacher at J.T. Reddick Elementary; Bette Baldwin, a fourth, fifth and sixth-grade ILP teacher at Charles Spencer; Ed Connell, a seventh-grade social studies teacher at Eighth Street Middle School; Terry Graydon, an eighth-grade science teacher at Eighth Street; Veronica Graydon, an eighth-grade language arts teacher at Eighth Street; Tammy Koran, a pre-school special education teacher; Ann Peterman, a kindergarten teacher at Annie Belle Clark; Eudine Hill, a kindergarten teacher at G.O. Bailey; and Lana Drew, a counselor at Tift County High School.

Baldwin became the first person to ever receive the award three times. The foundation takes nominations for the awards throughout the year, by letter or form, and then names a committee of 10 board members to choose the winners. The committee reviews the letters and does research on the teachers before voting by secret ballot.

The honorees will receive a check for $250 and a plaque during a banquet to be held at Abraham Baldwin College next year.



To contact city editor Florence Rankin, call 382-4321, ext. 209.

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