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Teacher of the Year 2018 Finalists announced
2018 RCPS Teacher of the Year Finalists RCA Liz McGowan, DMS Carlos Hernandez, RCHS Amy BaxterConyers, GA - Rockdale County Public Schools congratulates the top three finalists for RCPS 2018 Teacher of the Year: Rockdale County High School's Amy Baxter, Gen. Ray Davis Middle School's Carlos Hernandez, Rockdale Career Academy's Liz McGowan.

All three received surprise visits by Superintendent Dr. Terry Oatts, Rockdale County Board of Education members, RCPS cabinet members, and leaders for the announcement on Thursday, September 13th.

Baxter, Hernandez, and McGowan are in the running to be named the district's 2018 Teacher of the Year. They and all the school-level Teachers of the Year will be honored at the Teacher of the Ceremony on October 16, 2018 at Rockdale Career Academy.

The district level winner will be named at the end of the evening's ceremony and will advance to the state level competition.


Amy Baxter - Rockdale County High School


Amy Baxter has been teaching for more than two decades, with 17 years at RCHS. She is currently teaching AP Literature and British Literature.

On Thursday morning, when she saw RCHS Principal Frank Daniels come in with a crowd behind him, it took a moment to for her to realize what was happening. As it sank in, her eyes filled with tears and she started shaking. She said, "Mr. Daniels often stops by to inquire how the students are, so when I saw him open the door, it took a moment for the reality to register. When I saw the crowd behind him, my first thought was 'It is going to be a very interesting month!' My second thought was, 'My parents are smiling down on me at this moment.'"

Baxter said, "I'm so grateful and honored to be able to represent my Rockdale family as a finalist at the district level."

She grew up in Peachtree City where she graduated from McIntosh High School, earned a Bachelor's of Science in Secondary Education - English from University of Southern Mississippi (where her parents attended) and a Master's in English from Troy University.

In her spare time, she loves to read, write, paint, scrapbook and travel. She and her husband Dave have been married for 17 years and have two German Shepherds, Gemma and Atticus. She says her most rewarding experience as a teacher is simple: "The love I feel year to year is one of the greatest rewards, but I'm also thankful that this age of social media allows me to follow the successes of my students after graduation."


Carlos Hernandez - Gen. Ray Davis Middle School

Carlos Hernandez is entering his 19th year of teaching and has been teaching 8th grade social studies for the last four years. Prior to being named DMS Teacher of the Year, Hernandez was also a school-level Teacher of the Year at Hightower Trail Elementary in 2011.

His first thought, upon seeing the crowd of officials and his wife enter the classroom, was, "WOW!"

"It is an absolute honor because I work with so many deserving teachers. It is humbling to be considered a finalist in this wonderful profession. I am thankful to be acknowledged for what I am passionate about. I am proud to represent General Ray Davis Middle School and the teachers that make the school the place it is."

He grew up in Wilmington, Delaware and just outside Panama City, Florida. He earned a Bachelor's of Science in Education from University of West Alabama, a Master's in Biblical Counseling, and a Master's of Divinity specializing in Apologetics from Luther Rice University and Seminary.

In his spare time, Hernandez enjoys exploring and making new memories with his family, watching sports, mountain biking, and collecting theological books. He has been married to his high school sweetheart - Christy, who teaches 6th grade science at DMS - for 21 years and has two children, and recently gained a son-in-law. One of his most rewarding experiences as a teacher was taking two students to compete at the national level for National History Day.


Liz McGowan - Rockdale Career Academy

Liz McGowan has been teaching for 22 years and has been teaching AP Social Studies at RCA since 2013.

She was shocked Thursday morning when the announcement came. McGowan said, "I was honored to be named RCA's Teacher of the Year but didn't think I'd go any further. The students and I just finished reviewing a quiz and they were transitioning to an activity. The lights switched on and in came the people. They filled the room! I was truly at a loss for words."

"It feels fabulous knowing that the work I do day-in and day-out is finally being recognized... I work with the best faculty and staff. And my students are pretty awesome!"

McGowan grew up in Secaucus, New Jersey and attended William Patterson University before moving to Georgia and transferring to the University of Georgia where she graduated with a Bachelor's of Science in Social Science Education. She earned a Master's degree in Educational Leadership from Georgia State University and a Specialist's degree in Curriculum and Instruction from Nova Southeastern University.

She enjoys reading and watching the TV show "The Office" in her spare time. She and her husband Marc have been married for 28 years and have four children. They are expecting their first grandchild this fall in October.

Besides being named the RCA Teacher of the Year, her most rewarding experience as a teacher is hearing the success stories of her students.

McGowan recalled one young lady she taught for all four years of the student's high school career. "She was not particularly fond of me early on," McGowan said. "Like my own children, she began to realize I knew what I was talking about. After her college graduation, she contacted me to tell me that I inspired her to become a teacher. She thanked me for not giving up on her and was grateful that I contacted her dad on a regular basis."



For more photos, visit the RCPS Facebook page at facebook.com/rockdaleschools or click here.



Pictured below, left to right: RCHS Principal Frank Daniels, RCHS English teacher Amy Baxter, RCPS Superintendent Dr. Terry Oatts.

2018 RCPS Teacher of the Year Finalist RCHS English teacher Amy Baxter, center, with RCHS Principal Frank Daniels, left, and RCPS Superintendent Dr. Terry Oatts, right.




Pictured below, left to right: DMS Principal Randy Goerner, DMS teacher Carlos Hernandez, Superintendent Dr. Terry Oatts.

DMS Principal Randy Goerner, DMS teacher Carlos Hernandez, Superintendent Dr. Terry Oatts.


Pictured below: DMS teacher Carlos Hernandez, who was named a top three finalist for 2018 RCPS Teacher of the Year, gave the flowers he received as a finalist to his wife Christy, who is also a teacher at DMS.

DMS teacher Carlos Hernandez, who was named a top three finalist for 2018 RCPS Teacher of the Year, gave the flowers he received as a finalist to his wife Christy, who is also a teacher at DMS.




Pictured below, left to right:  RCA CEO Bennett McCumber, RCA teacher Liz McGowan, Superintendent Dr. Terry Oatts.

RCA CEO Bennett McCumber, RCA teacher Liz McGowan, Superintendent Dr. Terry Oatts, after McGowan was named one of the top three finalists for 2018 RCPS Teacher of the Year.




For more photos, visit the RCPS Facebook page at facebook.com/rockdaleschools or click here.