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Dawson County Chamber of Commerce hosts Teachers of the Year Luncheon
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Dawson County Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Mandy Power speaks during the chamber’s Teachers of the Year Luncheon on April 14. - photo by Erica Jones

On Thursday April 14, the Dawson County Chamber of Commerce hosted its annual Teachers of the Year Luncheon, honoring the teacher of the year from each of the seven schools in the Dawson County School System.

The luncheon was sponsored by Northside Hospital Forsyth and featured a catered lunch and presentations by the chamber, sponsor and superintendent as well as an opportunity for each principal to introduce their school’s teacher of the year for the 2021-22 school year. 

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Dawson County Schools Superintendent Damon Gibbs speaks during the chamber’s Teachers of the Year Luncheon on April 14. - photo by Erica Jones

In her welcome to the event attendees, Dawson County Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Mandy Power thanked the teachers for all that they do and said that she and the rest of the chamber leadership are proud to be able to honor them with the luncheon. 

“We wanna let you know that we appreciate you, and that you have one of the toughest jobs and it increasingly gets tougher every single year,” Power said. “You teach, you influence, you coach, you guide and you shape the future of hundreds if not thousands of children over your career. Today we wanna celebrate you and we hope that you feel very special and hope that you continue to do great work here in Dawson County.”

Superintendent Damon Gibbs, who will be retiring this spring at the end of the 2021-22 school year, also addressed the teachers and other event attendees during the luncheon. During his remarks, Gibbs thanked the school board members, school administrators and principals, saying that he is fully confident that the school system will continue to thrive under the leadership of the incoming new superintendent Nicole Lecave.

Gibbs also applauded the teachers of the year for their hard work and for receiving the high honors of being picked as the best at what they do by their coworkers. 

“We have over 540 team members in Dawson County; we have about 325 certified staff and seven people in this room today were selected by their peers, not by the community, not by the state, not by the Department of Education,” Gibbs said. “They were selected by the people that they’re arm in arm with every day, they’re recognized as the best of the best.” 

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Northside Hospital Forsyth Administrator Lynn Jackson speaks during the chamber’s Teachers of the Year Luncheon on April 14. - photo by Erica Jones

Northside Hospital Forsyth Administrator Lynn Jackson added to Power’s and Gibbs’ remarks, congratulating the teachers and thanking Gibbs for his hard work as the superintendent. She said that she and other Northside administrators are proud to be the presenting sponsor of the event once again. 

"If there’s one thing that we really can’t say enough to our educators here today it’s thank you,” Jackson said. “Today we got a chance to really just do that, to show our extraordinary appreciation for the difference that they’re making in the lives of our children and really in the future of our nation.” 

Before the presentation of each of the teachers of the year, Power introduced a new award that the chamber will make an annual occurrence: the Roger D. Slaton Excellence in Education award, named in honor of the late Roger Slaton. Slaton’s son, Barry Slaton, presented the award at the luncheon for the first time ever to Gibbs.

“He loved Dawson County Schools, poured his heart and soul into it; he believed in public education and he believed that we have the finest school system around,” Slaton said of his father. “Several different groups have honored him in different ways and we’re very honored and proud of what they’re doing on that behalf.” 

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Riverview Elementary School Principal Adam Maroney introduces Teacher of the Year Carson Johnson during the chamber’s Teachers of the Year Luncheon on April 14. - photo by Erica Jones

Following the opening presentations, the principals of each of the seven schools in the district came forward to introduce their teacher of the year, telling attendees some about each teacher and the hard work they do for the system. Each teacher was presented with a plaque made specially by students at the high school, and was given a gift basket put together by local businesses. 

The 2021-22 Teachers of the Year are: 

  • Carson Johnson, teacher of the year for Riverview Elementary School and district teacher of the year for Dawson County Schools 

  • Stephanie Danuser, Black’s Mill Elementary School 

  • Amy Tankersley, Kilough Elementary School

  • Meghan Cantrell, Robinson Elementary School

  • Karen Westbrook, Dawson County Middle School

  • Erin Wade, Dawson County Junior High School

  • Derek Waters, Dawson County High School