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AJC top teacher Maureen Wales of Fulton brings incredible energy, dedication to 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 share a key 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.

Maureen Wales from Alpharetta Elementary School in Fulton County was nominated by a former co-worker and friend Cindy Horowitz, who, in part, wrote:

Maureen Wales is a long time special education adaptive PE teacher with Fulton County Schools. She continuously goes above and beyond for her students and former students year after year. She shows up to work every day with incredible enthusiasm and energy and passes it along to her students everyday no matter how she is feeling or what is going on. She encourages her students to perform to the best of their physical ability and gives them self-confidence they may be lacking.

Maureen is also the liaison for Special Olympics for Fulton County Schools. Each year she makes sure all of the students in the county are properly registered and have their physicals done to participate. She coordinates volunteers for the events, plans them and more.

If Maureen is not busy enough with those activities, she still has time to offer exercise classes to teens and adults with disabilities that are former students after school. She has a group of young adults with developmental disabilities and former students that she plans parties for, takes Christmas shopping at the holidays and coordinates movies nights and other social events for them.

In addition, Maureen is a longtime volunteer and coach for the North Metro Miracle League (baseball league for those with special needs) and offers a camp for kids and teens with special needs every summer. If her students aren't able to pay for camp, she offers scholarships to them and will not turn them away.   I have never met anyone more passionate and dedicated to her special education students and families. She is truly a gem of a teacher and a gem of a person who never receives the recognition that she deserves! She goes the extra mile every day, week after week.


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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.