Dawson County Junior High School Choral Director Kevin Woody was recently named the 2017-2018 Teacher of the Year for Dawson County after being voted DCJHS Teacher of the Year by his peers.
“I was definitely shocked and humbled,” Woody, 29, said as he recalled his reaction to the news.
Woody, who graduated from Dawson County High School in 2007, says it feels like he’s “come full circle” to be honored as the system-wide Teacher of the Year ten years later.
“That’s a real moment,” he said.
The Dawson County native always kept his eyes set on home. Though Woody began his teaching career in Habersham County, he returned to Dawson County in 2015 to become the choral director of DCJHS, happy to be back in his community.
“I always dreamed of coming back here and working with the kids of my community because I wanted to give my kids a better experience than I had in middle school,” Woody said.
Woody said that he had a rough time during his middle school chorus career and that he quit the program with no plans to continue in the future.
It wasn’t until Spencer Wright, the DCHS chorus director, inspired and pushed him to participate in high school chorus and join the chamber singers that he discovered his passion for chorus and teaching music.
“My whole goal is to make every kid have a better experience than I did,” Woody said. “I hope and pray that I do that each day.”
In the two years Woody has been teaching in Dawson County, he has seen the DCJHS chorus program grow from 40 to 150-160 students. Although it can be overwhelming with classes containing over 50 students each day, Woody says it’s a great problem to have.
“I’m very blessed that the kids that are in chorus actually want to be in there,” he said.
The community support has also been a blessing, as Woody said parents and community members always want to help out in any way that they can.
“I really enjoy the small town feel that Dawson County has always had,” Woody said. “I really want my kids to get that they can not only make beautiful music, but they can use it for good purposes and give back to their community.”
While academics are necessary and crucial aspects of education, the importance of fine arts is undeniable. Woody agreed that while it’s true that fine art programs add an element of artistry, they are also a safe haven and creative outlet for students.
“For a lot of kids [fine arts] are the reason that they come to school,” said Woody. “Some kids live, eat, sleep and breathe art so it’s important to provide a safe haven for them in schools, giving them an opportunity to work hard and excel at something they love every day.”
DCJHS is obviously proud to have Woody as their choral director: An announcement on the school’s website reads, “Kevin is an exceptional teacher, passionate musician, and dedicated leader.”
DCJHS Principal Jeff Clapper echoed those sentiments in a statement Monday.
“Kevin is very deserving of this honor,” Clapper said. “[He] has an unmatched passion for teaching and he is an outstanding role model for students. He can always be counted on to help others.”
Woody is currently in his fifth year of his teaching career, having taught in Habersham at Hilliard A. Banks Middle School previously.
He received his bachelor’s degree in music Education from North Georgia College and State University, now known as the University of North Georgia. In 2014 he received his master’s in teaching from Georgia Southern University.
Currently he is working to obtain his Education Specialist Degree in Curriculum and Instruction from Piedmont College.
Outside of the classroom, Woody serves as the music and choir director at Liberty Baptist Church.
With all the excitement for this honor, Woody still remains humble after his decade long full circle from student to educator.
“I don’t take any credit for anything I’ve done,” he said. “Because if it wasn’t for those 160 kids in my program I’d just be another teacher.”