RCA educator named State Teacher of the Year

Photo by Howard Reed

Photo by Howard Reed

CONYERS — A Covington resident and Rockdale County educator recently was recognized as a top state teacher.

The Georgia Council of Teachers of English named Joanna Anglin, an Advanced Placement English teacher at the Rockdale Career Academy, its 2011 State Teacher of the Year. The council is a nonprofit organization made up primarily of teachers of English, reading and literacy at all grade levels.

"Receiving this award means a lot to me," Anglin said. "In the teaching profession, we often do not receive acknowledgement for all of our hard work, and this award is especially meaningful because it comes from others who are in my field. They know how difficult it is to struggle every day in the classroom and to try to make a difference for the children."

Peter Smagorinsky, her graduate professor in English at the University of Georgia, encouraged her to apply for the award. In her application, she had to write a philosophy of education, answer questions about current issues in education, discuss an event that exemplified what teaching is to her and describe two lessons that she teaches. She also had to send in two recommendation letters, including one from a student and one from a colleague.

"I feel honored to be recognized," Anglin said.

She taught English at Heritage High School for eight years prior to this year, when she transferred to RCA.

"I love seeing students become enthusiastic about learning. I love watching that ‘ah-ha' moment," she said. "I keep a loaner shelf of books in the back of my room, and I get excited when students borrow books and want to discuss them with me. For me, teaching is about relationships, and I work hard to build relationships that go beyond the 90 minutes that I have with the students."

In addition to this honor, Anglin has been named the Rockdale County Technology Integrating Teacher of the Year in 2007 and has been chosen by her students as a STAR teacher three times in the past eight years. She also has been chosen by students as an Honor Teacher several times.

"Mrs. Anglin is a very creative and dedicated instructor," said Miki Edwards, CEO at RCA. "Her classroom is a wonderful place due to high student engagement and her obvious passion for the teaching of literature and writing. She is very deserving of this award and we are so very proud of her accomplishments."

She and three other winners from across the state were recently recognized at the GCTAE Annual Conference at Callaway Gardens, where she received a plaque and a small stipend.

In addition to the state honor, Anglin also is planning to publish an article in the "Journal of American Indian Education" with Smagorinsky. It's called "Identity, Meaning, and Engagement with School: A Native American Student's Composition of a Life Map in a Senior English Class" and was created over the last year by analyzing data.

"My interests are mostly in how students learn and the way they make meaning in the classroom," Anglin said.

She doesn't yet know when the article will be published but already is working on her next article with Smagorinsky — an article about how students construct meaning using rap as a text — which they hope to finish by this summer.