Casey Bethel, science teacher at New Manchester High School, was named 2017 Georgia Teacher of the Year in a surprise announcement May 19 at New Manchester High School.
Mr. Bethel is a passionate educator, accomplished scientist and a mentor to students of all ages. He was named Douglas County’s 2015-2016 Teacher of the Year on October 1, 2015, and went on to represent the system in the Georgia Teacher of the Year competition.
Prior to teaching he earned a Master’s Degree in Plant Genetics and conducted experimental research at the Center for Applied Genetic Technologies at the University of Georgia. Noticing a decline in science education, he made the transition to teaching in 2005 through the Teacher Alternative Preparation Program, in hopes of being a part of the solution. After nine years in the DeKalb County School System, he made the best decision of his career by joining the Douglas County School System and the faculty of New Manchester High School.
“A visit on any day to Mr. Bethel’s classroom is exciting, motivating, inspiring, and demonstrates his belief in the teaching profession. I’ve never seen anyone more deserving of being named Georgia Teacher of the Year. He will impact and motivate teachers statewide as he travels during the next year and shares his expertise with groups of educators,” said Douglas County Superintendent Dr. Gordon Pritz.
In his ten years, Mr. Bethel has taught six different science courses, including Advanced Placement Biology and Physics. In addition to maintaining a track record of high student achievement, he aims to inspire the next generation of scientists. Lessons he designed have been published in The Journal of Chemical Education. His career leadership experience includes time as department chair, lead teacher, and lead judge in the Douglas County Science Fair. For the past five summers he has sharpened his skills as a scientist, conducting experimental research in a Biochemistry lab at Georgia Tech, hoping to find cures for Alzheimer’s disease and Glaucoma. In 2012 he was awarded the Paul A. Duke Action Plan award by the Georgia Tech Center for Education Integrating Science, Math and Computing. At New Manchester High, he sponsors the Chick Fil-A Leader Academy and Project Manhood, a male mentoring group which has been highlighted in local publications. He and his wife, Elise, are parents to beautiful twins, Jaxon and Harper.
Mr. Bethel worked with Dr. Raquel L. Lieberman in her lab at Georgia Tech as part of the Georgia Internship for Teachers (GIFT) program at Georgia Tech. According to Lieberman, “I was particularly impressed with his ability and agility in integrating both scientific and pedagogical knowledge, how engaging and creative his modules are, and how he incorporated different learning media and methods … He profoundly inspires all who have the opportunity to interact with him.”
“Casey serves as an extraordinary representative of the K-12 community. He inspires our staff here at Georgia Tech to learn more about secondary education teaching and learning strategies as they work with him to support his innovative approaches to teaching. It is not uncommon for Casey during one of his class sessions to speak directly with researchers for clarifications or content enhancement. Our staff, having worked with him, are delighted to serve as resources for his teaching,” said Paul M. Goldbart, Dean of the College of Sciences at Georgia Tech.
Teacher of the Year (TOTY) is sponsored by the Georgia Department of Education. The Georgia Teacher of the Year acts as a representative for all Georgia public school teachers and as an advocate for the school systems, its students, and its teachers. The Georgia Teach of the Year’s (GTOTY) numerous engagements usually include recognition before the Georgia House and Senate during the session of the General Assembly. The GTOTY typically takes a one-year sabbatical working directly with the Georgia Department of Education. During this time he or she speaks to various groups throughout the state. This teacher representative also conducts staff development activities for other teachers in his or her area of expertise; serves on statewide committees; and attends and participates in numerous state conferences.
Mr. Bethel will soon compete with Teachers of the Year across the United States for National Teacher of the Year.
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