Norcross Educator Named GCPS Teacher of the Year

Norcross High's Jay Nebel was awarded the 2013 title at Gwinnett County Public School's Teacher of the Year banquet.

Norcross High teacher Jay Nebel has been named the 2013 Teacher of the Year for Gwinnett County Public Schools.

The announcement was made Thursday evening during the Teacher of the Year banquet at the Gwinnett Center, where more than a hundred educators attended with hundreds of guests.

Nebel, who's been at Norcross High since 2007, teaches college-prep world history to ninth and 10th graders and is the school's associate head coach for the women's basketball team. He began his teaching career 11 years earlier at Creekland Middle in Lawrenceville, where he also was named a local Teacher of the Year, according to a news release.

"I go to school everyday, and everyday, I'm energized when I walk in my room," said Nebel in his acceptance speech. "There's nothing better than walking in my room, getting in those four walls, and seeing 35 faces looking up at me, listening and being excited and walking out, as [Principal Will] Bishops says, having learned something they didn't know when they walked in. And that's a special feeling."

Nebel is also the co-creator and co-sponsor of the school's Success Through Academic Rigor and Support (STARS) Program. Targeting rising ninth graders, STARS identifies at-risk freshmen who are in need of additional support to ensure that they have a smooth transition and eventually graduate on time.

"We work with everything from how to shake someone's hand [and] how to speak, to literally sit down and working with them academically," he says in video shown in the ceremony.

Nebel was among five other finalists for the Teacher of the Year title. The other teachers include Celisa Edwards of Dacula Middle; Deborah Johnson of Berkmar Middle in Lilburn; Dean Landers of Peachtree Ridge High in Suwanee; Erica Leach of Walnut Grove Elementary; and Heidi Mikulecky of Richards Middle in Lawrenceville.

While Nebel first was named Teacher of the Year on the high school level, the title was also given on the middle and elementary school levels. Leach was named the system's 2013 Elementary School Teacher of the Year, and the middle school title went to Mikulecky.

Leach is a mathematics specialist who covers all grades at the Suwanee school. She took part in the national Teach for America program, which recruits professionals from other fields into Education.

At Richards, Mikulecky teachers sixth-grade language arts. As an educator with an ESOL endorsement, Mikulecky uses a variety of strategies to differentiate her teaching to reach and engage students who are learning the English language.

The GCPS banquet recognized all 131 local school Teachers of the Year, who were called by district and presented by each district's boardmember. Among them, 26 semifinalists also were recognized.

For being Teacher of the Year, Nebel will be receiving a yearly $1,000 stipend while in GCPS and the use of a new car for three months, among other prizes.



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