Click here to see a video from Floyd County Schools featuring Pollitz.
Floyd's new top teacher is a second generation Teacher of the Year as her mother, Connie Pollitz, was before the board accepting the same honor exactly ten years ago. Pollitz credits her parents, both teachers, with sharing the joys of teaching with her. "My parents were always very honest with me and told me the positive and negative aspects of teaching," Pollitz said. "It was the examples my father and mother lived in sharing their passion for learning with children that slowly pulled me into the profession. I did not start out to be a teacher, but I could not get away from what I seemed destined to do with my life."
Pollitz is in her twelfth year on the career path she inherited from her parents but she did not follow their interests in subject matter - they were math and science teachers. For Shannon, English and literature are her passion and she seeks to share that with the students in her classroom. "I want my students to be critical thinkers, problem solvers and open to exploring knowledge at a higher level," Pollitz said. "To be effective learners, students must do more than memorize dates and facts but understand why information is important to them and be active seekers of knowledge." A class period in Shannon Pollitz classroom is busy and interactive for the students. The desks usually fall into multiple formations during a class period as the class may begin in rows to watch a video about an event in history, move into pods of four for small-group work, and then end in a large circle for discussion and debate of the day's topic. "I want my class to be active and fun," Pollitz said. "My students know that yes or no is not an acceptable response in our discussions because they must share with me the evidence they have examined and how that has impacted their view during their discovery."
The students in Shannon Pollitz's class have embraced the higher expectations she has for them. "She gets everyone in the class involved in discussion, and I like being able to talk about my feelings and what I liked about a question or whatever," eighth grader Allie Williams said. "It is fun in her class and not like some drag to have to go - I really like it!" A classmate Jaxon Croy added, "She asks very critical questions and she makes us think beyond the classroom." Eighth-grader Jake Ross agreed, "She likes to know what your thoughts are and I love that about the class because I like to express my ideas." Pollitz sees the teens responding to the heightened expectations. She said, "As teachers, we need to change the way we view teaching or how we have traditionally believed that we should run our classroom and let the children take responsibility for discovery and learning - they have not disappointed me."
Shannon Pollitz is in her third year of teaching at Pepperell Middle School. She began her career in Floyd County Schools in 2001 at Model Middle School. Pollitz spirit of adventure then led her to spend a year teaching middle school students in Casablanca, Morocco. She returned to her home country and spent three years at South Central Middle School in Emerson, Georgia before returning home to Floyd County. She has a middle grades education degree from the University of Georgia, a masters in educational leadership from Kennesaw State University and she has just completed her specialist degree in curriculum and instruction from Lincoln Memorial University. Mrs. Pollitz uses her experiences living and traveling abroad to inspire her students. She said,"I want to expand my students' world views through our activities in class. There is a sign in my classroom that says, 'Where will your education take you?' and beside it is a world map with arrows to all the places I have traveled or lived and pictures of me at those places. One of my goals is to show students that there is life beyond the small bubble in which they live."
Pollitz was selected Teacher of the Year by a review committee from the Rome/Floyd Retired Educators Association. The committee used written applications submitted by the teacher of the year representatives from each school in the Floyd County School System to select the three finalist. Questions asked in the application were taken from the Georgia "Teacher of the Year" application form. The group then held interviews and participated in classroom observations of the finalist to select the top teacher. Pollitz will now represent Floyd County Schools in the Georgia Teacher of the Year recognition program. The Georgia Teacher of the Year will be announced by the Georgia Department of Education in the spring.
The Floyd County Schools Teacher of the Year program is sponsored by Northwest Georgia Credit Union. The organization provides a $100 gift check to each finalist in the teacher recognition program and a $500 gift check to the 2013 Teacher of the Year. Northwest Georgia Credit Union has sponsored the system Teacher of the Year recognition program for more than 15 years.
Pollitz; Kim Baker, a teacher at Floyd County Education Center; and Allison Goggans, a teacher at Pepperell High School were the finalist for the 2013 Floyd County Schools Teacher of the Year.
Local School teachers also honored at the October board meeting were: Deanne Kay Westbrooks, Alto Park Elementary; Joseph Foss, Armuchee Elementary; Melanie Cochran Floyd, Armuchee High; Emily Burkhalter, Armuchee Middle; John Kapustay, Cave Spring Elementary; Brett Hotchkiss, Coosa High; Bob Harris, Coosa Middle; Kim Baker, Floyd County Education Center; Steve McGraw, Floyd County Schools College & Career Academy; Jessica Goss, Garden Lakes Elementary; April Cummings, Glenwood Primary; Sam Couch, Johnson Elementary; Angela Burkhalter, McHenry Primary; Jill Mathis, Midway Primary; Amber Miller, Model Elementary; Miriam McGhee, Model High; Kristi Sutton, Model Middle; Sean Burnette, Pepperell Primary; Craig Walton, Pepperell Elementary; Shannon Pollitz, Pepperell Middle; and Allison Goggans, Pepperell High.