Dawson County Middle School Media Specialist Cherie Powell says that education is part of who she is.
After 16 years in school systems throughout north Georgia including Cherokee, Forsyth, Hall and Dawson counties, Powell was voted teacher of the year by her peers in the spring.
"It was a tremendous honor to be chosen teacher of the year," Powell said. "I work with some of the finest educators I have ever known, so to be chosen by them has great meaning for me."
Though Powell did not decide she wanted a career in education until she was in college, teachers in her sixth grade and eighth grade classes made an impact on her choices.
"Education is definitely a calling," she said. "Most who aren't called realize they are in the wrong field very quickly...I had a fabulous sixth grade teacher and an equally gifted eighth grade teacher who influenced my decision to pursue a career in education."
Their influence not only helped her find her calling, it taught her the importance of caring about students as individuals.
"It is very important for teachers to get to know their students. Every child should know that they are valued. Students work harder and accomplish more in classes when they know someone cares," she said.
Powell said she thinks it is critical to find out what is important to a student so that a connection can be made.
Though Powell has lived in Dawsonville for 20 years and loves teaching in her community, she grew up in the Alpharetta area and received her bachelor's degree in middle grades education at Berry College.
Later she finished her master's in middle grades education at North Georgia College and State University.
Initially Powell was a classroom teacher. She did that for six years prior to getting her media certification from the University of West Georgia.
Her experience includes working at the middle and elementary school levels as well as in public libraries and school libraries.
"Media is such a unique position because you support everyone in the school," said Dawson County Middle School principal Randi Sagona during a recent board of education meeting.
As a media specialist she feels her biggest challenge is the time it takes to try and meet the needs of an entire school, but the work is what she loves.
"I love being able to help others," she said. In my job as a media specialist, I am able to work with everyone-students, faculty, staff and administrators. It keeps me busy, but there is something new and different every day."
She would also like to continue to progress in the field of technology.
This past year she has helped as students made the transition to using their iPads that are a part of a new initiative at the middle school.
During the November board of education meeting, Sagona talked about her seamless transitioning with the students as they adjusted to the new technology.
"She managed the whole thing in a calm, professional, kind, sweet manner that embodies everything that she does," Sagona said.
"Education is part of who I am. I definitely see myself remaining in the field for many more years," she said.
When she isn't helping everyone at DCMS, she enjoys traveling, reading, cooking and spending time with her family.