Teaching is all that Teresa Bennett says she ever wanted to do. The well-loved Dalton High language arts teacher has been fulfilling her dream for the last 34 years and has made a lasting impact on the lives of her students and her colleagues. In recognition of the contributions she has made to the education of the students of Dalton Public Schools, the Dalton Education Foundation presented Bennett with the Tom Jones Educator of the Year award.
Mrs. Cathy Rauschenberg and Mrs. Trisha Bethel, daughters of Tom Jones, were on hand to present the annual award, along with members of the Dalton Education Foundation Board of Trustees. Bennett received a crystal apple and a check for $3,000 from the Dalton Education Foundation and Dalton High School will receive $1,000 in Bennett’s honor.
“Because I love what I do, I think that I convey that enthusiasm to my students,” Bennett said. “I try to convey to my students that…I care about them as people.” She says that she strives to be her students’ biggest fan by attending their extra-curricular performances and games outside the classroom. “It is a wonderful and blessed life to be able to get up every day and to do something you truly love,” Bennett added. She is entering her 21st year of teaching at Dalton High School. She sponsors the Cat Ambassadors, and works with the region and state Literacy contestants and the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. She has coordinated a summer trip to New England for juniors at Dalton High every year since 1995. She serves as the department chair for the English Language Arts Department and is a member of the school’s Design team. She was one of the first two teachers from Dalton Public Schools to receive National Board Teacher Certification.
Her colleagues praise her ability to build strong relationships with students as well as create a culture of camaraderie and collaboration among her peers. “Mrs. Bennett illustrates compassion, strength, leadership, and most of all, humanity,” said Minako Barry, a fellow language arts teacher. “She is the perfect mix of the best of the traditional teacher of my education and the progressive teacher of today’s classroom.”
Retired Dalton High Principal Debbie Freeman says she has worked with Bennett for over twelve years and says she is the perfect example of a life-long learner. “She is well connected to other educators and is constantly reading, learning, discussing and applying new learning,” said Freeman. She adds that Bennett is highly respected in her field. “Teresa is an educator who truly talks the talk and walks the walk.”
The award is presented in memory of Tom Jones, a prominent Dalton businessman who served for 26 years on the Dalton Board of Education—22 years as chairman. Jones, who was co-founder of J & J Industries, was a native of Dalton and product of Dalton Public Schools.
This was the 27th annual recognition of a Dalton educator who has made significant contributions to the instruction of children and who symbolizes excellence in teaching.
The award is given each year by the Dalton Education Foundation to recognize a Dalton Public Schools educator who demonstrates instructional excellence. Bob Bethel, president of the Dalton Education Foundation, along with Tom Jones family members and members of the Board of the Trustees of the Foundation presented the award.
For more information about the Dalton Education Foundation, you may contact DEF@dalton.k12.ga.us.