Superintendent of Schools Dr. Brian V. Hightower surprises Cherokee County School District 2018 Teacher of the Year Stephanie Vidrine with flowers during class midday at Woodstock Middle School.
Watch a video from the surprise presentation here.
Woodstock Middle School teacher Stephanie Vidrine shapes math lessons into stories that remain in students’ hearts and minds long after the equations are solved.
Her extraordinary gift for teaching her students, especially those who struggle with math, resulted in an equally impressive honor presented on Tuesday: Cherokee County School District’s 2018 Teacher of the Year.
“Mathematics,” the 20-year teacher said, “is so much more than manipulating numbers and following procedures. It is art, beauty, creativity, patterns and connections to other mathematical concepts and life experiences.”
The CCSD Teacher of the Year is selected by a panel of community leaders who evaluate applications from each school’s Teacher of the Year; school winners are selected by their peers.
Dr. Hightower gives Ms. Vidrine a congratulatory hug after the announcement that she will represent CCSD as its 2018 Teacher of the Year.
“We’re so proud of her,” Superintendent of Schools Dr. Brian V. Hightower told a room full of Ms. Vidrine’s students after announcing their teacher’s honor. “She’s committed to you and what you do on a daily basis.”
Ms. Vidrine will be honored in November at the annual “Legacy Makers: CCSD Teachers of the Year Celebration” sponsored by Credit Union of Georgia and other community partners. She also will serve as CCSD’s nominee for Georgia Teacher of the Year; the winner will be named in the spring.
A special new prize for CCSD’s Teacher of the Year was announced as part of Tuesday’s surprise presentation: Shottenkirk Automotive Group – Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram of Canton is giving Ms. Vidrine a one-year lease of the vehicle of her choice! Already overwhelmed by the initial announcement of her new title, Ms. Vidrine was clearly delighted by the additional surprise.
Sales Associate Ed Denovellis, left, and General Manager David Booth present Stephanie Vidrine of Woodstock Middle School with a giant key while telling her that, as CCSD Teacher of the Year, she has won a one-year lease of the car of her choice from Shottenkirk Automotive Group – Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram of Canton.
“I’m going to park the van in the garage!” she said, with a laugh, as she received a giant glittering gold key to celebrate the gift. She then turned to her students to thank them. “You guys are my heart and soul… you make me better.”
Ms. Vidrine, who is a two-time school-level Teacher of the Year having previously earned the honor at Etowah High School in 2001, discovered her passion as a middle school student.
Her eighth-grade pre-algebra teacher had looked her in the eye and said: “You’ll never be any good at math.”
Never say never.
Dr. Hightower tells the class about Ms. Vidrine’s qualities and accomplishments that made her stand out from CCSD’s 39 other Teacher of the Year school-level winners.
Ms. Vidrine dedicated the next three years of her studies to deeply understanding math and connected with an Algebra II teacher who believed in her. She earned a perfect score on her Algebra II exam and found her perfect career.
“From that point forward, I wanted to teach mathematics and provide for my students the opportunity to achieve and excel in mathematics no matter their previous level of performance,” said Ms. Vidrine, who went on to earn a Bachelor of Science degree in mathematics education from the University of Georgia.
Her addition of storytelling to math concepts totals a successful combination for students, who appreciate her so much that they stay in touch long after they’ve advanced, graduated and even pursued their own careers in math.
“She teaches in a way that almost prevents you from forgetting,” one student shared. “Almost every unit she taught had a personal story to it… and every story she told always related back to what we were learning, and everyone got excited when she announced she had a story to tell us.”
Woodstock Middle School Principal David Childress adds his congratulations and accolades for a teary-eyed Ms. Vidrine during the surprise announcement.
Principal David Childress recruited Ms. Vidrine to Woodstock Middle School from Etowah High School, where he previously worked alongside her as a fellow math teacher.
“She has a love for teaching the students who often struggle in math,” he said. “Stephanie is a powerful ball of mathematical energy.”
The proof of her powers, he said, is in the numbers: all of her students earned proficient or better scores on their State exams, and pulled CCSD’s highest marks for performance growth.
The improvement comes from hard work – on her part and on the part of her students, like those who choose to attend daily remediation classes she volunteers to hold during lunch.
As one student puts it, her class is like a Dr. Seuss book: a story, a lesson, a delight.
“Her teaching is like no other,” she said. “She is a teacher who I will never forget.”
From left to right: Superintendent of Schools Dr. Brian V. Hightower poses with Cherokee County School District 2018 Teacher of the Year Stephanie Vidrine and Shottenkirk Automotive Group – Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram of Canton General Manager David Booth.
Dr. Hightower leads Ms. Vidrine’s class in applauding her selection as the CCSD 2018 Teacher of the Year.
David Booth, General Manager for Shottenkirk Automotive Group – Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram of Canton, adds to the surprise announcement by telling Ms. Vidrine she has won a one-year lease for the car of her choice at his dealership.