Deal Announces Winners of the Innovation in Teaching Competition

January 17, 2017

Gov. Nathan Deal today announced the three winners of the 2016-2017 Innovation in Teaching Competition, a recognition and reward opportunity for teachers who implement innovative instructional strategies to advance student achievement. This year’s competition rewarded teachers focused on one of the following priority areas: applied learning with a focus on STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics) education, language and literacy skills, blended learning and innovative practices to close the achievement gap. Funding for the competition is provided through Georgia’s Innovation Fund, a competitive grant program.

“Effective, engaging teachers are essential to preparing Georgia’s students for the workforce or higher education,” said Deal. “With the Innovation in Teaching Competition, we are recognizing and rewarding educators who are at the forefront of developing innovative classroom methods. By learning from these teachers, we are building upon their success to improve education in classrooms across the state."

Each of the three teachers will receive a $3,000 stipend and a $4,000 school grant to support innovative instructional strategies. In addition, Georgia Public Broadcasting will film each of the winning educators teaching a unit and conduct an interview about preparation for the unit. The videos, along with the educators’ unit plans and supplementary materials, will be made available to other educators, parents, institutions of higher education and other educational stakeholders. Videos, unit plans and supplementary materials from former rounds of the competition are currently available here

The three winners, along with the subject area(s) and grade level(s) of each winning unit, are listed below.

Claudia Fitzwater
First-fifth grades, Spanish 
Applied learning with a focus on STEAM education
Charles R. Drew Charter School
Atlanta Public Schools

Cheri Nations
Eighth grade, Physical Science
Applied learning with a focus on STEAM Education
North Gwinnett Middle School
Gwinnett County Public Schools

Kaycie Rogers 
Third grade, Science and Social Studies
Innovative practices to close the achievement gap
East Jackson Elementary School
Jackson County School System

About the Innovation Fund
The Innovation Fund invests in public education entities that aggressively develop and scale programs that enable Georgia educators to improve student performance and tackle our state’s most significant education challenges. In 2011, the Innovation Fund began as a $19.4 million competitive grant competition created under Georgia’s Race to the Top plan. To continue the Innovation Fund’s work beyond Race to the Top, Deal appropriated state funding for Fiscal Years 2015, 2016 and 2017. Since its inception, the Innovation Fund has invested more than $31 million of state and federal funding through 78 grants to 50 school districts, charter schools, postsecondary institutions and nonprofit organizations to pilot innovative education programs, ranging in focus from teacher and leader induction and development to STEAM applied learning, blended learning and birth to age eight language and literacy development. More information about the Innovation Fund and the Innovation in Teaching Competition can be found on the Governor’s Office of Student Achievement website here.