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Whitney Andino is Lamar’s Teacher of the Year

By Kay S. Pedrotti Surprised to the point of blushing, Whitney Andino couldn’t stop smiling as she was told she is Teacher of the Year for the Lamar County school system. Each year the title is held secret after the four schools choose their teacher of the year. Andino seemed delighted but also embarrassed to be given the honor, announced last week at the Lamar County middle school. She said getting to the title of TOTY for the system was ‘a complicated process.’ She will be among the candidates for Georgia’s teacher of the year. LCMS principal Dr. Julie Steele said the whole school is proud that ‘our own teacher of the year earned the system-wide honor.’ Andino’s husband Mario and mother Becky Watson attended the surprise event. ’I’m very excited,’ said Andino last week. ‘I did not expect to get this award in the presence of so many other teachers who well deserve it.’ She teaches the selfcontained classroom for special education students and is known to use all her skills to improve their lives. Andino’s written statement says, ‘I grew up in Thomaston and now live in Pike County with my husband, Mario. I graduated from the University of Georgia with a bachelor’s degree in special education adapted curriculum. I have taught special education for six years, five of them at Lamar County Middle School. I love serving students with special needs and enjoy teaching my students life skills and the skills that will allow them to be more independent. I love seeing them succeed and make progress toward goals, even if it is just one small step to something bigger.’ Other teachers of the year include Tanya Ferrier, primary school; Amanda Akins Gunnels, elementary school, and Carol Parish, high school. LCPS Teacher of the Year: Tanya Ferrier ’I enjoy teaching our younger students and being part of their first school years,’ said Ferrier. She was graduated from the Indiana University of Pennsylvania in 1997 with a bachelor’s degree in elementary education. She has lived in Lamar County since 1999 and has taught at the primary school for eight years. LCES Teacher of the Year: Amanda Gunnels Gunnels grew up in Barnesville and is a 1993 graduate of Lamar County High School. She has an associate’s degree from Gordon State College and a bachelor’s in early childhood education from Georgia Southern University. She has two ‘wonderful children, Abigail and Everett,’ she said. This year she is teaching third grade reading and social studies. ‘I have 42 precious students whom I adore. I believe that building strong, positive relationships with students is the key to their success,’ she said. ‘They don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.’ LCHS Teacher of the Year: Carol Parrish Carol Renee Parrish said she is a ‘very proud Lamar County school system educator’ who has been honored to teach English and drama since 2008. She started at the middle school and transferred to the high school in 2010. ‘This Trojan Nation has helped me become a better person and educator with each passing year because of the great opportunities and challenges that foster growth,’ she said. ‘I am humbled by the experience of representing the high school as teacher of the year in the presence of some of the best administrators and educators in the state. Thank you, Lamar County.’

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