Dalton Board of Education Vice Chairman Rick Fromm presents Dalton High German Teacher Ava Wyatt with the 2014-15 Dalton Teacher of the Year award.
Even though her career has spanned 22 years, Ava Wyatt didn’t originally plan to be a teacher. On Monday evening, Wyatt’s outstanding teaching performance and her commitment to Dalton students was recognized as she was named the 2014-15 Dalton Public Schools Teacher of the Year. The announcement came during a ceremony honoring all the school-level winners for Teacher of the Year in the district held before the Dalton Board of Education meeting.
The Dalton High German teacher was recruited by her alma mater in the middle of the school year in 1992 to take over the German language program. Since that time, Wyatt has taught hundreds of students and built a strong student exchange program that has given both Dalton and German students a chance to experience life abroad and build lifelong friendships.
Wyatt says her classroom philosophy is that all students can learn and learning can be fun, even though it sounds simplistic. “Learning a language allows students the opportunity to realize how they learn,” she said. “This certainly has an impact on the rest of their life. Once a student realizes what is necessary to “learn” something, they become responsible for their education and it clears a path for their independent education for the rest of their life. “
She says the exchange program with the school in the Harz Mountains in Germany has been a pivotal element in her program. “Students learn about Germany, their German families, and their German brothers or sisters,” said Wyatt. “At the same time, they discover more about themselves, their own families and the USA (as well as their own additional heritages). Students develop their understanding of learning and they develop a passion to learn beyond what is offered in the classroom.”
Wyatt has taught German at Dalton High School since January 1992. She was recognized as 1997-98 Dalton Public Schools’ Teacher of the Year, the 1998 Georgia German Teacher of the Year and in 2002-2003 was selected as the Dalton High Star Teacher. She received her bachelor’s degree in modern languages from Wesleyan College and her master’s degree in German Secondary Education at the University of Florida.
Steve Bartoo, principal of Dalton High, says Wyatt is very deserving of the honor. “It confirms what we all know at Dalton High,” said Bartoo, “that she is a very effective teacher who is passionate about the success of her students. She establishes great relationships with her students and designs quality work for them to do in the classroom. She coordinates our German exchange program and puts in countless hours of work to ensure that students have a great learning experience during their visits. We are very proud of Ava and all that she does for students and Dalton High School.”
Shown are the school-level Teacher of the Year winner: front row, left to right, Renee Mahan (Brookwood), Randi Grant (Roan), Ava Wyatt (Dalton High), and Victoria Mosteller (Park Creek), and back row, Ronnie Natola (Dalton Middle), Matt Sane (Blue Ridge), Paquita Bailey (Westwood), Paige Watts (Morris Innovative High), and Cindy Ellis (City Park).
Other school-level Teachers of the Year winners included Mathew Sane, Blue Ridge School; Renee Mahan, Brookwood School; Cindy Ellis, City Park School; Victoria Mosteller, Park Creek School; Randi Grant, Roan School; Paquita Bailey, Westwood School; Ronnie Natola, Dalton Middle School; and Paige Watts, Morris Innovative High School.
Wyatt will now compete with other district Teachers of the Year from across Georgia for state Teacher of the Year.