AUGUSTA, Ga. – Columbia County’s first-year-teachers were tested by this past year, and many came out ahead. But one outshined all of the others.
Caroline Dekle was named the school district’s Rookie of the Year at a ceremony at Savannah Rapids Pavilion on Thursday.
“I feel very blessed and just very thankful to be in a place that supports first-year-teachers,” Dekle said.
Columbia County Public Schools celebrates new teachers every year in May, and each principal nominates one of their new teachers for the honor of Rookie of the Year. A team of district level personnel reviewed the nominations and narrowed the choices to a small group of finalists who were reviewed in the classroom.
Superintendent Steven Flynt was able to observe Dekle teaching and was impressed by what he saw.
“You could tell right away the impact she has on a number of students and teachers and staff members as well,” Flynt said. “I think, when you bring enthusiasm into the workplace, it spreads, and she definitely does that.”
Dekle teaches 7th grade mathematics at Stallings Island Middle School in Martinez, whose principal Vicki Tarleton wrote in her nomination about how passionate Dekleshe is for her work and how her drive will offer her plenty of opportunities.
“Caroline works diligently to understand every perspective in order to find the most effective way to meet the needs of her students,” she wrote. “She is already a visionary who continually seeks way to improve her lessons by always keeping the students needs as her primary focus. I am excited to see what the future holds for Caroline Dekle, knowing that she will make a tremendous impact on so many lives during the course of her teaching career!”
This was read aloud during the celebration Thursday, and Dekle said when she heard that “I wanted to tear up a little bit. It was very, very sweet and they [the school administrators] have been my rock through this year…they’ve been very supportive but also just clear communication. If I need anything, they’re there.”
The Rookie of the Year title also earned Dekle a plaque, a laptop, free entry to any conference of her choice and an invitation to be honored among the district’s top teachers at the Annual Teacher of the Year banquet.