The AJC created the Celebrating Teachers Awards this year to showcase remarkable Georgia educators. More than 375 teachers were nominated in the inaugural round of the awards, and a panel of education professors chose 10 winners.
These teachers share a critical trait: They go above and beyond for their students and their schools. Since this is Thanksgiving week, a time to express gratitude, I am sharing the nominating letters and photos of all 10 teachers, two each day from Monday to Friday. The new profiles will post early in the morning and mid-afternoon each day.
So, please check back and read about all 10. You will find inspiration. The nominating letters were read at a celebration a few weeks ago at Cox headquarters in honor of the winners.
Farhat Ahmad from McClarin Success Academy in Fulton County was nominated by his co-worker Alexandra Larsen, who, in part, wrote:
I met Farhat through a network in Fulton County Schools called Vanguard. It was a team of like-minded individuals that shared a passion for instructional technology. He had just won the Innovation in Teaching award from the Governor's Office and our Vanguard lead shared his success through an email to the group. I wrote to congratulate him, having only known him by name at this point.
Fast forward a couple of years and I can say that meeting Farhat was a very important moment for me as he has been an extremely influential colleague and friend. Farhat works tirelessly with his students at McClarin, for many of whom this is their last chance to succeed academically. He has taken the time to engage his students with instructional technology and personalized learning -- not because he has to, but because he realized something more was needed to offer the students opportunities that they deserved.
He utilizes iPads, Microsoft Surface Pros, USA TestPrep, and Microsoft OneNote to personalize instruction. He assesses students at the beginning of each class to determine what they need to know and what they already know. He sits down with every student to co-plan their class.
He takes cultural, economic, emotional, and learning differences into consideration. Students who were once shy feel as though they have a voice. Students who once may not have passed the state assessment are finding themselves doing so. To Farhat, teaching isn't about him; to Farhat, it's about the students. It's about their successes and the means by which they get there.
After implementing his effective practices with instructional technology and personalized learning, his students' Georgia Milestones score rose from 20 percent to 40 percent, and the school graduation rate doubles from 2015 to 2016. McClarin Success Academy -- something that could just be a name on the side of a building. But not for Farhat Ahmad. To him, it means helping his students find their purpose in an engaging and personalized way