During the Dalton Public Schools annual Employee Convocation, Julia Cagle was named the 2023 Dalton Teacher of the Year. Cagle works at The Dalton Academy where she teaches media arts, technology, and entrepreneurship.
With an impressive 16-year journey in the field of education, Cagle's passion for teaching and commitment to her students make her an exceptional choice for this recognition.
Growing up in an environment where education was cherished, Cagle's inspiration came from her mother, who was a devoted teacher. Witnessing her mother's profound dedication to shaping young minds fueled Cagle's own desire to contribute to the world of education and empower the next generation.
"Growing up, school was more than a place I went to learn; it was ingrained in every aspect of my life," Cagle said. "My mother, a teacher, immersed my childhood in educational games, science experiments, and fine arts exposure. Books were found in every room of our house, encouraging my sister and me to read voraciously. My father, gifted in mechanics, showed me the underside of a car and, through hands-on experiences, taught me problem-solving and patience."
Cagle's academic achievements speak volumes about her dedication to personal growth and self-improvement. She holds a bachelor's degree in psychology and sociology, a Master of Arts (MAT) in Teaching, and an education specialist degree in instructional technology. These academic accomplishments have enriched her teaching approach and allowed her to provide her students with a well-rounded and engaging learning experience.
"When asked about my greatest educational accomplishments, I trace them back to my roots-my parents and their nurturing of curiosity and problem-solving," Cagle said. "Drawing from these influences, I have worked tirelessly to develop educational programs for students within and beyond our community, focusing on entrepreneurship and 21st-century job skills."
Throughout her tenure at various educational institutions, including Murray County High School, Morris Innovative High School, Dalton Middle School, Westwood Elementary, and The Dalton Academy, Cagle has consistently demonstrated unwavering dedication and enthusiasm for her profession. She takes immense pride in being an integral part of Dalton Public Schools and cherishes the opportunity to shape young minds in her community.
Cagle's teaching philosophy centers around the belief that education transcends beyond imparting knowledge; it is about fostering growth, kindling curiosity, and nurturing each student's unique potential. To engage her students, she employs competitions as a means to promote 21st-century job skills such as collaboration and critical thinking. Cagle frequently involves her students in rigorous competitions, including Bright Spark's Design Thinking and Invention Challenges, Speak Up Whitfield Podcast Competition, Odyssey of the Mind, Pitch DIA, Doodle for Google, and numerous others.
"Education is not a one-size-fits-all model but a dynamic process requiring adaptability and a student-centered approach," Cagle said. "When a teacher allows students to drive the instruction, students recognize they are contributing to their own education in a tangible, meaningful way."¬¬
Recognizing the significance of technology in modern education, Cagle is an advocate for incorporating technology as a powerful tool within the classroom. She embraces innovative teaching methodologies to ensure her students have access to cutting-edge learning experiences.
"I incorporate interactive digital resources, educational apps, and online platforms to create interactive and immersive learning experiences for the students and the staff I work with," Cagle said. " The outcome is a classroom brimming with enthusiastic learners who remain deeply engaged throughout their educational journey."
Furthermore, Cagle's commitment to enhancing the teaching profession extends beyond her role as an educator. She actively serves as a mentor and friend to many of her co-teachers, providing guidance and support to foster a collaborative and nurturing teaching community.
"The rewards I find in teaching are immeasurable," Cagle said. "Witnessing that 'a-ha moment' in a student's eyes, watching their growth and progress, and being a part of their developmental journey brings me immense joy. The opportunity to positively impact their lives, not only academically but also personally, is a privilege that I cherish."
As the Teacher of the Year, Cagle received a one-year lease to a new Ford car thanks to Ford of Dalton. She also received a check for $500 as the district Teacher of the Year, a check for $200 for her honor as the school teacher of the year, and a new rug courtesy of Shaw Industries.
The financial awards were made possible through donations from partnering businesses: North Georgia National Bank, Georgia United Credit Union, Jefferson’s, Dalton Utilities, Carnes and Company, Shaw Industries, McCamy Law Firm, and Coldwell Banker Kinard Realty.
We also would like to thank First Student for their gift in-kind of transportation to the event for staff and Ford of Dalton for the free one-year car lease for the Teacher of the Year.
Each of the school Teacher of the Year winners received a $200 check.
Other school level Teacher of the Year honorees included Beth Brock, Blue Ridge School; Karen Cooper, Brookwood School; Kristen Asbell, City Park School; Angelica Brown, Park Creek School; Gricelda Rodriguez, Roan School; Laurie King, Westwood School; Andrea Baron, Hammond Creek Middle School; Luke Tolbert, Dalton Junior High School; and Wes Phinney, Dalton High School.