Shining Star Awards 2021 - Honoring our Teachers

The SCSF salutes state charter school teachers who have gone over and above during this unusual school years! Our teachers have shown their flexibility, creativity, and compassion to reach their students. Our teachers have worked tirelessly to help Georgia's children continue learning.

Our 25 Shining Star state charter school teachers are displayed below and will be featured on social media channels. They will each receive a $50 Amazon gift card courtesy of AirTutors! To see last year's honorees, please click HERE.

We received so many wonderful nominations! Here is our list of finalists: Shining Star Teachers Finalists 2021

Read the press release HERE.

Shining Star
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Fallyn Askew, Pataula Charter Academy - 7th Grade

Nomination: She was moved to Middle School this year with it being one of the most difficult years to be teaching and she has done an AWESOME job. She has always gone above and beyond for her students and making class fun. This year has been very difficult but she still included her Distance Learning students as if they were in the classroom daily with her and not just students who weren't able to attend in person for their safety! 

Tonya Barr, Ivy Preparatory Academy - 4th Grade

Nomination: Ms. Barr is an exceptional teacher. She has a passion for teaching Math and empowers our girls to love Mathematics. She continually seeks ways to make a difference, instilling the belief, "Girls Can Do Anything!" . . . . She is articulate, knowledgeable, approachable, well-respected, and a team-player. Besides her daily work and impact as a classroom teacher, she serves/d in several leadership capacities within the school . . . Ms. Barr consistently mentors her colleagues, models best practices, conducts professional development on aspects of high quality teaching and learning. This "Ivy Shining Star" has proven to be an effective teacher leader and consistently demonstrates her commitment to both the school, families, and community. Her indefatigable efforts, combined with her great work ethic are qualities that deserve some "shine!" 

Kaija Barrett, Resurgence Hall - 1st Grade 

Nomination: I believe that being an educator is a calling. It's not just a career, but a life built serving and cultivating the next generation of leaders and lovers. Ms. Barrett . . . has not only uncovered her purpose, but she has found joy in educating students at such a pivotal time in this world. She wakes up excited to serve her students each day and she is constantly seeking ways to make them feel comfortable, seen, and heard in the classroom. There are several exciting projects and endeavors that Ms. Barrett has brought into her classroom, but the most exceptional is that she has built a relationship with every single student she serves and has created an environment that makes everyone feel welcomed and excited to learn. I know students go home and rave about how great Ms. Barrett is and how much they learn under her leadership. Not only is she a shining star, but every one of her students will be as well as a result.

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Alyssa Barsky, Odyssey School - 3rd Grade 

Nomination: Ms. Barsky has been indescribably wonderful in what can only be described as a very challenging year. Her patience and ability to teach through these circumstances has been awe inspiring. Despite learning virtually, my son always felt included. I have watched him excel during a year that it would have been understandable had he faltered. Ms. Barsky’s guidance, leadership, and clear passion for teaching has been superlative. I feel bad that my words feel inadequate to express just how amazing she has been. 

Wiebke Blair, International Charter School of Atlanta (ICSAtlanta) - 2nd Grade German Immersion

Nomination: Frau Wiebke is truly the BEST teacher around. She loves what she does and cares for the kids day in and out. When things moved online she pivoted without a blink and had her online classroom set up (and looking cute) in no time. She has been so patient throughout this whole year - even during stressful times in her own family. We all love her!!! *** Where do I start! This teacher is AMAZING! Not only is she teaching in person students, she is also teaching online. My son has been online from the beginning of the year but because of this teacher and her endless enthusiasm, he never feels left out of what they are doing in school. *** In all the years I've known this teacher, I've never seen her in a bad mood even when sad things happen in her world. I'm truly blessed to have had the pleasure of having this teacher in my son's life and believe she definitely deserves recognition for all that she does

Brianna Burns, Liberty Tech Charter School - 7th & 8th Grade

Nomination: She is one of the best teachers I have ever had. She actually interacts with us, wants to teach us, and will actually work things out with us. We will all do fun things as a class together and she has made COVID-19 so much easier. With all of the restrictions at school, we have found ways to have fun together. She’s funny, caring, and just amazing. I have had her as a teacher in both 7th and 8th grade and I will be sad to leave her next in high school. She is one of the best and you can’t get better than that.

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Diana Caldwell, Liberty Tech Charter School - 4th Grade 

Nomination: Mrs. Caldwell is so much more than a math and science teacher, she teaches kids about loving others, kindness, acceptance, never giving up on themselves, how to laugh at themselves and “just” how to be great people, all while having fun. I don’t know how this amazing woman does this but she also does it while never losing her cool, at least outwardly! . . . . My granddaughter has been virtual all year and I have been the primary person helping with school at home and have been present most of hers classes. Mrs. Caldwell has been phenomenal at adjusting to virtual teaching. It’s almost as if she knew how to do this all along. Her assignments were clear and concise from the start, my granddaughter was always able to hear well and felt a part of the class. If she needed help, it was always readily available to her. 


Janene Clark, Ivy Preparatory Academy - Special Education 2nd — 8th Grade 

Nomination: Mrs. Clark had gone far and beyond the call of duty for her scholars with disabilities. . . . Besides the expected emails and phone calls to parents, Ms. Clark has made it her business to call each of our middle school scholars every morning and wake them up personally in time to have a healthy breakfast and be ready for class. Mrs. Clark has also voluntarily assisted . . . on home visits to meet with parents in regard to low attendance and to make sure it is not a need within the household. Mrs. Clark makes herself available to parents after school hours to answer questions about homework assignments and due dates. Lastly, I nominated Mrs. Clark to be a Shining Star because she created a virtual planner that is kid friendly for our scholars to be able to use so that they can keep up with homework assignments and projects.

Maud Devine, International Charter School of Atlanta (ICSAtlanta) - 5th Grade French Immersion

Nomination: In addition to her positive teaching techniques, Madame Devine cares deeply about her students' progress and wants to help them reach their full potential. . . . Her willingness to do more than what is asked of her is what makes her truly shine. This pandemic year has heaped extra work on all the teachers, but Maud Devine shows up with a smile every single day. She laughs and jokes with students and shows joy in interacting with them. She provides them with hands-on learning experiences and communicates with parents to ensure the students are prepared. I cannot be more pleased with the education my son has received by being in Maud Devine's class!

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Jamye Donalson, Spring Creek Charter Academy - PreK & MS Cheer

Nomination: Jamye Donalson is the most dedicated teacher imaginable. After the pandemic, she did everything possible to stay connected with her students and their families. She learned how to hold Zoom classes with 4-year olds, she made a YouTube channel so they could listen to stories anytime, she delivered items to their mailboxes, and the list goes on. She is eager to go to work every day. She makes time after attending her personal children’s sports events to attend those of her current and former students. She can’t go anywhere that she doesn’t get a random hug from a current or former student. She makes the transition from home to beginning school an easy one for children and parents. She sends daily photos of activities the students are doing to parents to keep them connected. She is also the middle school cheer coach and very active with PTO. 

Shelby Donnan, Baconton Community Charter School - 8th Grade

Nomination: Ms. Donnan has been a team leader since the pandemic began last spring. She has worked to help teachers understand the technology that was being used to provide virtual learning. She has trained others to help provide the best education for all students. I believe teachers that take time to step outside of their own classrooms to help other teachers, especially in the middle of this pandemic, are shining stars!

Erica Foxworth, DuBois Integrity Academy - 2nd Grade

Nomination: Ms. Foxworth has gone above and beyond the call of duty throughout this entire pandemic to make sure her students experienced minimal "covid learning gaps." . . . . During our time of 100% virtual, I found out that Ms. Foxworth had been meeting with some of her students at their homes who were severely falling behind. . . . I advised her that this was not safe due to the risk of being exposed to the Coronavirus. . . . . Ms. Foxworth's passion to help her students would not allow her to take no for an answer, so she decided it was time to . . . get her own place. Unbelievable! All so she could have a place to provide FREE tutoring to help her babies who were falling behind. In addition, she has met students at local restaurants, coffee shops, and parks on warm days. There is no stopping her when she gets it in her heart that this is what she must do to make sure her students are 3rd grade ready next year.

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Angela Goddard, Coweta Charter Academy - 6th & 7th Grade

Nomination: As a parent, I have come across many teachers throughout the years. . . However, Mrs. Goddard is one of those teachers that when you meet her, she makes the room light up! The first day my children and I met her, I just knew that her whole heart was in teaching. Our first year of having her as a teacher, the Coronavirus happened, and schooling had to be finished at home. Mrs. Goddard ensured that projects continued, and that the kids didn't stay stuck in the house while learning. She made it just as fun as it would have been in person. . . .While we have chosen to do virtual learning, she goes above and beyond for all her students. She has a beautiful soul and to have her as your child's teacher is such a blessing. Her students are her everything, and even in trying times, she pours her heart and soul into those kids. She is so deserving of the Shining Star award, because in a time when things seem dark, she is the light that makes it brighter!

Terrentena Grant, Genesis Innovation Academy for Boys - 2nd Grade

Nomination: Ms. Grant goes above and beyond during this virtual season of schooling she has been resilient never misses a day with the kids she always makes them smile and allows them to have free time on some Fridays to relax watch a movie and enjoy popcorn she's always engaging and teaching them new things and making class fun and entertaining while educating she is a great teacher it is with great honor that I nominate her for The shining Star award

Ashelea Grier, D.E.L.T.A. STEAM Academy - 3rd Grade

Nomination: Ms. Grier is the shining example of excellence! . . . . She has demonstrated perseverance through these tough times and never once let any obstacle stand in her way. Everything she does is in service of our students. She is our virtual 3rd-grade teacher, and she has never missed a beat. . . . She is a fabulous role model for all stakeholders. Her students always say how they know they are loved and seen. Her daily classes are unapologetically rigorous and the students rise to the rigor daily. I often hear her students express their appreciation for her warm tones and loving instruction. Her virtual class looks and feels like an in-person class. You would never know that all year she has been reaching her students through a computer screen. She has been bringing out the best in each student through a camera and keyboard. . . . She is a leader among her peers . . . and is dedicated to making sure that all students are given a chance to pursue their dream. She is a shining star for D.E.L.T.A. STEAM Academy and all of education. 


Dieldra Griffin, Georgia Connections Academy - 5th — 8th Grade 

Nomination: Ms. Griffin is a teacher/leader who tirelessly works within our school to provide excellence in education for our students and to provide PD for our staff. Our largest and most popular professional development is our Lower School Convention. . . . Ms. Griffin guided the transition of this convention from in person to virtual . . . The positive response has been overwhelming from our staff, and they said they actually preferred the virtual option as they were able to attend more sessions! Ms. Griffin supervises other teachers and motivates them to seek professional growth through external and internal opportunities. I cannot speak highly enough of Ms. Griffin and the work she has done this school year! In addition to our M-F school days, she is the manager of our Saturday School Program. She has created yet another opportunity for students to close the opportunity gap COVID has created. 

Jacob Hale, Georgia Connections Academy - High School Special Education All Content Areas

Nomination: Mr. Hale embodies a passionate, committed, and hardworking teachers who is dedicated to his students. He is passionate about ensuring his students have equitable access to the curriculum as well as learning experiences beyond the classroom. Jacob is extremely professional in his communication with both students and staff. Jacob builds lasting relationships with his students and communicates in a positive manner with them in LiveLesson. He is a great asset to the High School, the Social Studies Department and the Special Education team.

Allison Holley, Coweta Charter Academy - 4th Grade

Nomination: Miss Holley has been beyond amazing as a teacher to my son this school year. I have watched him mature on an emotional level and within the classroom due to her encouragement and motivation. She has taught my son to never give up no matter what life throws your way.  She has worked closely with my son and myself to build his self-esteem and self-confidence. She strives to relate to her students by knowing them on a personal level and is an exceptional role model. Last year was a hard year for my son and many other kids. Miss Holley showed her support by attending one of my son's baseball games because she knew that was something important to him. I can honestly say she not only focuses on academics but the student as a whole, doing whatever she can to assist in their growth, maturity, and experiences. I am beyond grateful to Miss Holley for being an exceptional educator.

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Mary Martha Ivey, Southwest Georgia STEM Charter - 1st Grade 

Nomination: Miss Ivey is a Shining Star because she pushes her students to do their very best. She encourages them to get our of their comfort zones to achieve the next level. She encourages her student to be accountable and responsible for their actions. My daughter loves Miss Ivey so much! 

Casey Jones, Mountain Education Charter High School - PE and Administration

Nomination: I know during the pandemic Coach Jones has spent a tremendous amount of time and money to ensure that his students were fed and their basic needs taken care of. He has fixed parents cars and delivered groceries to those in the community that needed it. Casey has also gone above and beyond to make sure their mental health needs were a priority. When schools were allowed to open in person Coach Jones made home visits and made sure that kids got back into class. I am proud to have him serving the students of our community.

D'Lee Pollock-Moore, Georgia School for Innovation and the Classics (GSIC) - 9th and 10th Grade 

Nomination:  Ms. Pollock-Moore received numerious nominations from her students! Mrs. P always looked out for me and other students, she truly cared and always went the extra mile to make sure we did everything we could to learn . . . . She helped us with any problems we had to make sure we didn’t slack off in school. She’s truly the best teacher I have ever had! *** Mrs. P is the best teacher I have ever had. Her lessons are so engaging and interesting, and I always look forward to going to her class. She always makes us feel welcome and comfortable when we are learning. Sometimes when we start something new she will even say to a student “you’ll like this lesson” because she knows our interests and things we like to learn. She is always helpful and kind and has never made me feel inadequate or not smart when I ask questions. She will always listen to us when we have problems or need help whether in school or in our real lives, and she is so comforting to talk to. It really feels like she cares, because she does, and she makes a point to tell us every day that she appreciates us. I love Mrs. P!!!

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Christina Russell-Oliver, Ethos Classical - 1st Grade

Nomination: Mrs. Russell-Oliver has gone above and beyond to do everything she can to bring joy to scholars during distance learning. From mailing Scholar of the Week polos to celebrate scholars to building in special celebrations in Morning Meeting, Mrs. Russell-Oliver has been a model of tenacious joy through a year unlike any other.

Jacob Robinson, International Charter School of Atlanta (ICSAtlanta) - 7th and 8th Grade Social Studies

Nomination: As parents we all know teenagers are tough, but to teach them - yikes! Mr. Robinson however takes everything in his stride. He not only teaches in person but also online students. My daughter began the year online and moved to in person for the last quarter. Mr. Robinson has made it great, either way. My daughters comments about him: “Mr. Robinson has a great sense of humor, he’s such a chill teacher and his lesson plans are cool” When a teenager says this about a teacher, you know you have an AMAZING teacher! He definitely deserves recognition. *** Mr. Robinson is my favorite teacher. He has made lessons interesting and fun, whether I was learning online or at the school. We all love Mr. Robinson, and all the students would vote for him!

Matthew Robinson, Brookhaven Innovation Academy - 3rd Grade 

Nomination: Matthew Robinson has shifted the whole atmosphere of our school. Not only is he an amazing 3rd grade math teacher that builds community, self advocacy, and self-esteem in his students but also students in other grades and classes, as well as the faculty and staff and our school. . . . .As a means to build community and prepare students, he had a Kahoot math competition with 3rd grade vs 8th grade. The students were so excited. . . . . Matt's students are super passionate about many social issues and through art work the students are not only expressing the social issue but also their solution to the social issue. . . . We need more teachers like him.


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Caroline Teagarden, School for Arts Infused Learning (SAIL) - 1st Grade

Nomination: Ms. Teagarden's love for teaching shows through the love each child has for her. Her creativity and patience is astounding. My child was upset that she could not spend every day with her during the required learn from home sessions due to Covid-19. Ms. Teagarden made sure that the children knew she was there for them and did everything possible to keep them motivated and prepared. First grade with Ms. Teagarden has been a true blessing!!!