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AJC top teacher Kari Parlier of Gwinnett roots for students in and out of classroom

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 have a trait in common: 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.

Kari Parlier from Duncan Creek Elementary in Gwinnett County was nominated by parent Joyelle Metz, who, in part, wrote:

Mrs. Parlier has taught both of my boys within a four-year time span. She instilled a love of learning and always encouraged them to look for the good in situations, to think of solutions to problems and to be "world changers."

An example of her caring and genuine interest really came to light for me when she asked for their sports schedules and showed up at many games cheering on our boys. During one baseball game, a terrible thunderstorm popped up and I told her we would completely understand if she left and she said "Oh no, I would never do that because he might look over and see that I left. I want to teach him it's good to hang in there when situations aren't always ideal...I am here until they play ball or call it." She then smiled her sweet smile.

Mrs. Parlier believes children should be seen and heard and encourages them to be brave and make a difference. When a child leaves her classroom at the end of the year, they are perfectly equipped to be world changers. She doesn't dismiss them just because the bell rings on the last day of school.

Mrs. Parlier lets every child know her door is always open for them. I think the best way to teach a child to be a world changer is to be one and she is just that!


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About the Author

Maureen Downey has written editorials and opinion pieces about local, state and federal education policy since the 1990s.