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Lauren Tsouchlos is a Buford “Lifetimer” — she attended Buford City Schools from kindergarten through graduation, and her BCS experience began even earlier as she attended the very first day care offered by the school system. 

But Tsouchlos’ connection to BCS didn’t end when she graduated high school. After obtaining a bachelor’s degree in early childhood education/special education with endorsements in reading, English for Speakers of Other Languages and Spanish from the University of North Georgia, she returned to BCS as a teacher. She started her first year of teaching at Buford Academy in 2018 at the third grade level. The following year, when Buford Senior Academy opened, she became an educator there, teaching English to students who speak other languages. 

Now in her sixth year of teaching, Tsouchlos is Buford City Schools’ 2024 system-wide Teacher of the Year. The North Gwinnett Voice recently reached out to Tsouchlos to find out more about the educator, who has dedicated herself to educating Buford students. 

Lauren Tsouchlos works with students in her class at Buford Senior Academy. Tsouchlos is Buford City Schools’ 2024 system-wide Teacher of the Year. Special photo.

North Gwinnett Voice: Did you always want to teach or were there other career paths you considered? 

Lauren Tsouchlos: I have always wanted to be a teacher! My mother started teaching when I was in her belly, so I think that the desire to teach has always been in my DNA! Seeing the impact that she had on her students gave me such a motivation to pursue this career.

NGV: Tell me about your current position with BSA. 

LT: I am currently teaching fourth and fifth grade ESOL (English to Students of Other Languages). I teach a variety of wonderful Multilingual Learners. I teach students who have been in the United States for many years now and are working on refining their English skills, and I also have students who are new to the United States and are working on learning English from the very beginning. 

NGV: What is your overall approach to teaching? 

LT: My pedagogical priorities as a teacher are to 1) make a connection, 2) make it fun, and 3) make it matter. Making a connection or having a relationship with each student opens up their minds and hearts to learn in my classroom. Making the information fun helps a child to learn without any pain added to it. This contributes to a positive learning environment and an ever increasing appetite for learning in my students. Lastly, making the information I teach matter to the students is quite possibly the most important and most challenging task of all. Many of my students have fled their home countries to escape war, poverty, crime, violence, and starvation. Survival is their greatest priority. Why would it be important to learn to read and write in this new country? Making this matter to them is the very key to giving them a hope of a better future and life in America.

NGV: What do you think are the most important aspects of education? 

LT: School is a place where students are challenged to become inquisitive readers, writers, historians, scientists, and mathematicians. But, it’s about so much more than just learning academic knowledge. Our number one priority is to keep kids safe and healthy. However, we also assume the responsibility of teaching our students the abstracts of life, such as qualities of being a good person and citizen, the value of being a hard worker, and the importance of having a good reputation. We often use the phrase “it takes a village” because getting a child to succeed requires the support of teachers, administrators, family, and friends. Knowing this, I am so grateful to be a part of the greatest “village” there is: Buford City Schools!

NGV: Do you have any particularly memorable stories from your teaching career? 

LT: Every year, my wonderful students give me so many precious memories to cherish forever. However, some of the most touching moments of my career have been seeing students who come to me from other countries without any literacy at 9 and 10 years old. School is a completely foreign idea to them. Seeing them grow and flourish in a new country, in a new language, and in a new way of living despite all of the challenges that they’ve faced in life … that is what it’s all about for me.

NGV: What does it mean to you to be named Buford City Schools’ Teacher of the Year?

LT: It is an absolute honor to be chosen as Buford’s Teacher of the Year. More than anything, I am so thrilled that the population of students whom I teach have this opportunity to shine. This honor really is for them! I’m grateful for the teachers and staff from BSA who elected me as their teacher of the year, I’m grateful for my wonderful administrators who support my students and myself endlessly, I’m grateful for Buford’s amazing ESOL department and teachers who have such a passion for our kids, I’m grateful for my friends and family who constantly support me, and I’m grateful for everyone at Central Office and on our school board who keep Buford as the best place to work!

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Deanna Allen has served as editor of the North Gwinnett Voice since June 2021. Effective communication and creative design are her passions.

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