Georgia Teacher of the Year pays a visit to Optimist Club

Published 11:34 am Wednesday, March 6, 2024

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The 2024 Georgia Teacher of the Year dropped by LaGrange on Monday for a visit with the Optimist Club.

Christy Todd, Georgia’s State Teacher of the Year (TOTY) and current national finalist, spoke at the Mike Daniel Recreation Center on Monday, highlighting what it means to be the state TOTY.

Todd is a music technology teacher at Rising Starr Middle School in Fayette County. She began her career as a chorus director but as the creative industry became more and more important through television shows like The Walking Dead, Stranger Things and movies from the Marvel Universe, she said her job began to change.

Six years ago she launched a creativity initiative that connects Fayette County and Georgia’s booming creativity sector, founding the Fayette County Public Schools Community for Creativity (CFC) initiative.

“As part of the creativity initiative that I run, I teach music technology. So that’s like getting computers to help students write and record and produce music,” Todd said.

The CFC program allows students to learn to create songs, podcasts, videos, and audiobooks,  which they then release through the school’s label, Hall Pass Entertainment, which distributes them across major streaming platforms.

“Ten to 15 years ago, my job didn’t even exist but now because of technology it does,” she said.

Todd said as TOTY, she is currently on a sabbatical from teaching to be an ambassador for Georgia education.

“I’m not teaching, which is the hardest thing about this job to not be there with my students or my colleagues, but instead I’m in the role of inspiring and working with other teachers across our state,” Todd said.

Todd was selected from 157 district-level teachers of the year to become Georgia’s overall TOTY.

It’s a long process, she said, noting there are multiple interviews on every level.

“I’ve been in this for three years now. Three years ago, I was named my school’s teacher of the year, then my district’s, then the state’s. It’s the same thing at the national level, where there are 57 national representatives from states and territories like Puerto Rico and the Department of Defense,” Todd said.

Todd is currently one of four finalists for the national TOTY award.

“I just got back from Washington, DC, where I went through nine interviews over two days, and had to give a nice keynote presentation, so we’ll find out,” Todd said. “That’s a big part of my job this year is going to represent you on a national stage.”

The national teacher of the year will be announced later this spring.