Although she is only in her third year teaching at Dawson County High School, social studies teacher Anne Hyams, 47, is well-known for her passion, creativity and exceptional test scores.
Hyams was selected as the school's 2012-13 teacher of the year in May. She said she was shocked because of all the other hardworking teachers in the school.
"For the first time in my life I was speechless. I was stunned," she said.
"I work with so many gifted, talented and dedicated individuals that there are so many that deserve to be recognized and shown appreciation ... I really didn't expect my name to be called."
Hyams has been teaching for more than 14 years at schools spanning the country. Her husband, Mike, who was in the Marine Corps, took their family on different assignments for 22 years.
"The nature of being a military family, we have had to move every two to three years. So I have had the opportunity to work in different parts of the country and be exposed to different school cultures," she said.
While Hyams believes these experiences have molded her into a better educator, she is happy to "put roots" into the north Georgia area.
"This is home to us," she said.
Principal Jute Wilson said one reason Hyams was recognized as the school's teacher of the year is because of her students' great test scores.
"She works tirelessly to reach every student in her room and it certainly shows up on student performance," he said.
Wilson said that the school saw record End-of-Course-Test, or EOCT, scores last year in U.S. History, a subject Hyams instructs.
"Our pass rate, 87 percent, jumped an astounding 19 percent from the previous year. The state average was 69 percent," he said.
"The number of our students scoring ‘exceeding' jumped to 54 percent, a 23 percent increase. In simpler terms, over half of our students ‘exceeded' on the EOCT test."
Deneen Trammell, social studies department chair, said Hyams "is always willing to go the extra mile doing anything that is asked of her," including tutoring struggling students after school.
"She has spent countless hours of her own time during the school year and during the summer tutoring students who need extra help with standardized testing," Trammell said.
She also emphasized how Hyams is "a joy to work with."
"She is consistently positive, cheerful and supportive of both students and coworkers," she said.
According to Hyams, she has always known she wanted to be a teacher. She holds a bachelor's degree in education with a specialization in history from North Georgia College & State University.
"I feel like this is what I was meant to do because when I am in front of the students I am in my element," she said. "I have a genuine passion for teaching."
Outside of class, Hyams has served as the girls' basketball assistant coach and this year she is assisting with Y-Club and acting as an assistant coach for track.
She believes in "hands-on" teaching methods and hopes to pull on student's visual, kinetic and auditory learning abilities.
Hyams' goal is to get them interested and interacting with course material and one another.
"History is a story and I am fascinated with our past and predicting where we are heading. I enjoy economics as well because I feel it is information the students will apply in their post-high school years.
"They are learning about investing and saving and how the economy works. These are all crucial topics that they need to be familiar with before they enter the real world."
Later this fall, Hyams has the chance to be selected as the systemwide teacher of the year from among the 2012-13 teachers of the year at each of the local schools.
An external committee of administrators and teachers from neighboring counties will look at each of the nominated teachers and make a final selection.