Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

St. Marys Educator Wins; New Rules Make Her the First Person to Assume the Title Immediately

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

St. Marys Educator Wins; New Rules Make Her the First Person to Assume the Title Immediately

Article excerpt

Byline: Gordon Jackson, The Times-Union

KINGSLAND -- An asterisk will go next to the name of Camden County's only two-time teacher of the year.

When St. Marys Middle School teacher Leigh Dougherty was named Friday as the top educator in Camden County for the 2003-04 school year, she became the first person to win the honor and immediately assume the title.

In past years, the winner had to wait until the beginning of the next school year before assuming the title. But this year, school administrators decided to change the yearly designation to align the district honor with the state's teacher of the year competition.

That means Rebecca Curry, who was named the county's only two-time winner of the honor in January, shares the title with Dougherty for the remainder of the school year.

Curry, one of five finalists for state teacher of the year in 2001, said she she's not upset with the change. She said the timing is perfect because she's received enough recognition for her job in the classroom.

In fact, Curry said she plans to "step back" and allow the attention to focus solely on Dougherty the remainder of the school year.

"It's her turn to shine," Curry said. "I think it's a perfect opportunity for this to occur."

Dougherty, a seventh-grade science teacher, said she was like "a deer in the headlights" when her name was announced as this year's top instructor.

"I'm a product of my environment," Dougherty said. "I hope to serve you well."

Dougherty, teaching for the fifth year in Camden County, said her goal is to get pupils excited about science and see the relevance the subject has on their lives. Before teaching in Camden County, Dougherty taught two years as an environmental educator on Jekyll Island at the 4-H center.

"It's really important to get to know the students and lure them in," Dougherty said. …

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