Adversity during this school year has resulted in the need for dedicated teachers. Ms. Kristy Shea, a first-grade teacher at White Oak Elementary, is one of those dedicated educators.
Ms. Shea graduated from the University of Georgia with a bachelor’s degree in child and family development and a minor in dance. She later earned her Masters of Arts in early childhood education from Brenau University.
Ms. Shea has worked in Gwinnett County for 13 years, with five of those years spent at White Oak. Before joining GPCS, she worked in Fayetteville County Public Schools as a substitute teacher teaching PE, music and art classes, and teaching within P-5, special education and special area classrooms. She was also a dance instructor.
“Before I began teaching in the classroom, I taught dance for several years,” she said.
Ms. Shea began teaching in traditional classrooms once her son was born and said, “No matter what I’m teaching, I love the relationships, and I love seeing students grow!”
Ms. Shea’s teaching philosophy is based around the idea that everyone is a learner.
“First, I believe everyone is a learner. From the moment we are born, and throughout our lives, we learn new things each day,” she said. “I also believe we don’t all learn at the same time or the same way. As an educator, I believe learning about my students is essential, so I can help them to learn.”
Ms. Shea said she has developed a habit of innovation in finding ways to keep her virtual students engaged, and she creates an environment where students know they matter and are comfortable trying new things.
Being named Teacher of the Year was a bittersweet moment for Ms. Shea because the other finalist was her co-teacher, Ms. Lisa Neal, whom Ms. Shea has known for a long time. Although Ms. Shea had hoped Ms. Neal would win, she was honored that she could represent White Oak.
“I am very grateful to be a part of the White Oak community,” Ms. Shea said. “The students, the families and my colleagues are all phenomenal. This community is one of the most kind, most hardworking and most supportive communities I’ve ever been a part of.”
— Staff Reports