In just three years in the Dawson County School System, first grade teacher Sallie Power's impact on Robinson Elementary is being celebrated.
Power was announced as the system-wide teacher of the year Monday during the Dawson County Board of Education's October meeting.
"Our mantra this year at Robinson has been ‘Every moment counts and every student matters,' and Sallie Power is the prime example of that," said Principal Kim Bennett.
A graduate of Piedmont College and the University of Georgia, Power is in her ninth year teaching.
"She started in Forsyth County, and we were blessed enough to steal her away a few years ago," Bennett said. "Sallie has spent her entire teaching career in first grade, and we are so very blessed to have her at Robinson Elementary School."
Power, who can often be heard referring to her young students as friends, said she always knew she would follow an educational path.
"From a young age, I wanted to be a teacher. Working with children brings me so much joy," she said. "I pray that I would make a difference in each of my students' lives."
Reading comments from parents of children Power has taught, Bennett said the impact she has made is obvious.
"There's one common thread that runs through this. Sallie Power loves her kids more than she loves herself, and she puts them first in each and everything she does," Bennett said. "She is always smiling and full of energy and she carries that into her classroom every day. She is the epitome of an elementary teacher."
An external committee of administrators and teachers from neighboring counties chose Power for the system-wide honor from among the 2015-2016 teachers of the year at each of the local schools.
Lisa Perry, chief human resources officer, said the decision to pick the overall teacher of the year is always a difficult task for the committee.
"And sometimes they try to recruit my people away, and the answer is no when they start that," she said. "This year was no exception. They were certainly impressed with all of you and had a very difficult time coming up with one name."
The other teachers of the year are: Blacks Mill Elementary - Teresa Crawford; Kilough Elementary - Mandy Smith; Riverview Elementary - Paula Poss; Dawson County Middle - Kristina Priest; Riverview Middle - Dessica Pritchett; and Dawson County High - Hank Simpson.
As the system's top teacher, Power will represent Dawson County in the contest for Georgia Teacher of the Year the spring.