TCSS announces new systemwide teacher of the year after announced winner leaves system

Published 10:15 am Thursday, April 20, 2023

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The Troup County School System has reversed course and has named a new systemwide teacher of the year after the previously announced winner left the school system.

The new 2023-2024 TCSS Teacher of the Year is Dr. Zelda Kitt, a 9th-12th grade English and Language Arts teacher at the Hope Academy.

Layna Kemp, a 2nd-grade teacher of all subjects at Long Cane Elementary School, was previously announced as the system TOTY during a reception on March 22. According to a TCSS press release, one week after the reception, she gave birth to her first child and has accepted another career opportunity outside the school system. According to the Georgia Department of Education, the winner can only represent their school system and continue with the state competition if the teacher is an active employee.

“I am deeply grateful to the Troup County School System and am honored to have been recognized among so many incredible educators,” Kemp said in the TCSS press release.

Kitt is a graduate of the University of Alabama at Birmingham with a bachelor’s degree in political science and English. She also has a master’s in English Education and an Ed.S. degree in Educational Leadership from Alabama State University. She went on to earn her Doctorate in Elementary and Secondary Education Leadership from Auburn University. Kitt has been a teacher at The HOPE Academy since 2019 and has 17 years of teaching experience.

A panel of judges reads and scores the finalists’ essays and applications, including a taped interview and classroom observation showing them teaching a lesson through a 20-minute recorded video. This year, there were four judges, anonymous to each other, to decide the Teacher of the Year award. The judges who are at various levels in their educational career are all outside of the Troup County School System.

Kitt received the second highest scores from the judges, now making her Teacher of the Year. Kitt accepted the role and title as Teacher of the Year on April 18, 2023.

In addition to being named the TCSS Teacher of the Year, if she chooses, Kitt will represent the Troup County School System in the State Teacher of the Year competition sponsored by the Georgia Department of Education.

Kitt will receive an engraved Teacher of the Year ring from Herff-Jones, a crystal engraved bowl, and a monetary stipend. Kitt will be recognized at the May school board meeting and during the TCSS Back to School kickoff on Aug. 1, 2023.