Susan Barlow was recently selected to receive the 2022 Mentor Teacher Award for the Northwest Georgia P-20 Collaborative. Barlow teaches second grade at Brookwood Elementary and was nominated by a recent student-teacher for her commitment to outstanding mentorship.
Throughout her 16 years of teaching, Barlow has sought to impact the lives of her students, fellow staff members and the upcoming teachers who she calls “the future of education.”
“I do hope this award opens doors to mentoring others,” Barlow said. “We all have different gifts that we bring to the classroom, but I do really love mentoring upcoming teachers and rising seniors in the education profession.”
Barlow said she was inspired by her own mentor teacher who encouraged her to start each day new and embrace the challenges teaching presents.
“I had a wonderful mentor teacher my senior year,” Barlow said. “I model a lot of what I do after her.”
As a mentor teacher, Barlow prioritizes inclusion inside and outside of the classroom. Her student teachers are always invited to engage with students and staff no matter the circumstance.
Each day, Barlow works with the student teacher to help them grow in their strengths and takes time to encourage them for their unique abilities and gifts.
In her nomination, Ellie Downey, Barlow’s recent student teacher, wrote, “She poured into me so that I could truly grow and be ready to step out on my own. She was always firm, but fair, and treated everyone with respect.”
Downey added, “A mentor should be someone you admire, trust and turn to for advice. Susan Barlow has been that for me at every step of the way. I feel confident that she will continue to be a resource for me as I take on my own classroom because that is the kind of mentor she is.”
Barlow comes from a long line of educators. Although she is not teaching in Kentucky like much of her family, Barlow feels as if she has found a family in her staff at Brookwood School.
“I truly feel like I work with a group of amazing educators,” Barlow said. “I know that we all desire to give 110%. We do this because we care about the children. We believe they matter, and I see that throughout Dalton Public Schools.”
According to Barlow, success comes through teamwork, perseverance and a willingness to go the extra mile for others.
“I love coming to work every day,” Barlow said. “I think a big part of being a successful teacher is teamwork. I am incredibly thankful for the teachers I work with.”
This award was initiated by the Georgia Association of Colleges for Teacher Education (GACTE) and is co-sponsored by the Georgia Association of Educators (GAE), Georgia Association of Educational Leaders (GAEL), Professional Association of Georgia Educators (PAGE), and Georgia’s Network for Transforming Educator Preparation (GaNTEP) to honor those outstanding educators who, in addition to fulfilling their first obligation as educators, also serve as mentors to the upcoming generation of Georgia teachers by modeling, coaching, instructing, and investing in their development at the highest possible levels.
“I thank God every day for my job,” Barlow said. “I’m grateful that I get to be here and work here alongside amazing educators. I can look around this building and, in so many ways, everyone is a teacher of the year. We all have so many different gifts that we bring to the table.”
Barlow will be formally recognized for her dedication to outstanding mentorship at the Georgia Association of Colleges for Teacher Education Fall Conference in November.
“I admire her work ethic, personal convictions and respect for others,” Downey said. “I trust her judgment and wisdom. Most of all, I believe that she wants only what's best for each of her students, including me. I would feel honored if someone compared me to her as a teacher one day because I believe she is a wonderful role model, and my life has been blessed because of her impact.”