Annette Buckner, biology teacher at Dalton High School, was recently awarded the Outstanding Biology Teacher Award for the state Georgia.
This award is presented annually by the National Association for Biology Teachers (NABT) to one teacher from each state. Recipients must have been teaching for at least three years and spend a majority of their time teaching biology or life science.
According to the NABT's website, "candidates are judged on their teaching ability and experience, cooperativeness in the school and community, and student-teacher relationships."
Buckner said she was shocked to be nominated for the award and even more surprised to be named the winner for the entire state.
"There's so many other teachers out there that are better than me," Buckner said. "I was encouraged to apply by one of my mentors. When I found out I got the award I was definitely in shock."
Buckner realized she wanted to be a teacher one day when she was in the third grade. She wasn't sure what type of teacher she wanted to be, however, until she was in college.
"In college I had a great biology professor and he was talking about how exciting biology is and that biology is life," Buckner said. "I thought, how cool is it to teach people about life and so I fell in love."
Buckner believes her connection with students is what allowed her to receive such a prestigious award.
"I know it's a cliché, but students don't care how much you know until they know how much you care," Buckner said. "That's the thing that I try my best to do and just let them know that I'm there for them if they need any help as a student."
She said when she was in high school, she struggled as a student, so she knows firsthand the importance of having a teacher willing to take extra time and show extra care.
"I want to help kids realize that they're smart," Buckner said. "You may have to study and work hard, and it's okay to get a B. I always struggled in high school and had to work hard just to get that B."
For her, the influence of other teachers, especially those at Dalton High School, has only improved her teaching abilities.
"I've had some really great examples and to look up to, especially my teachers I teach with at Dalton High School," Buckner said. "I just feel like I feel like since I've come to Dalton, my teaching has changed to be more inquiry-based and I feel like that sets me apart."