“I feel humbled and amazed. I couldn’t have done it without mentors, without a fantastic principal and vice-principal who have always encouraged my ideas and without my husband and my sons especially.”
Martha Thomason, teacher of the gifted program at Westwood School, recently received the 2020 Georgia Gifted Program Teacher of the Year Award from the Georgia Association for Gifted Children (GAGC). This award is given annually to a gifted teacher who demonstrate exceptional teaching, dedication and positive parent relationships in their school, community and the state of Georgia.
Thomason began her career in the gifted program as a parent volunteer when her sons were in elementary school. Her oldest son's teacher, Priscilla George, asked her to serve as the parent representative for GAGC in 1996.
"That's kind of when I moved into the scene and it was absolutely amazing," Thomason said. "Historically Georgia has been ahead in gifted education. We are extremely blessed; we have had such strong leaders working behind the scenes for gifted students and to raise the bar for all students."
Shortly after moving into the parent representative role, Thomason was encouraged to get her certification and become a gifted program teacher.
"I had previously taught for six years but at the point I became the parent rep, I was a stay-at-home-mom," Thomason said. "I wasn't really sure I ever wanted to go back to education. But I had fantastic leaders and influences and role models right here in this system to guide me along the way."
Over the course of her career at Westwood, Thomason has led teams in both Bright Spark and Odyssey of the Mind.
"We've had an Odyssey of the Mind team make it to the world competition and we've had three kids win the Paul Torrance Creativity International Award in their age group," Thomason said. "We do a lot of things with thinking outside the box and critical thinking. I think that's so important to our kids and their future."
Lisa Hackney, director of school support, nominated Thomason for this award. She said Thomason is special because of her focus on and dedication to each of her students.
"Her classes are differentiated to meet the individual needs of students and she accomplishes this seamlessly because she really knows her students," Hackney said. "She knows their learning style, she mines their data, and she knows their strengths and weaknesses. They become her kids, and she watches their development with attention to detail and love."
Westwood Principal Scott Ehlers echoed this sentiment, focusing on her ability to challenge and inspire students.
"Martha is one of the finest teachers I have worked with," Ehlers said. "She is always looking for new ways and ideas to challenge students. Martha has many strengths and talents, which always focus on what is best for students."
With this award, Thomason is being recognized for the years of hard work working with gifted students in Dalton Public Schools.
"I feel humbled and amazed," Thomason said. "I couldn't have done it without mentors, without a fantastic principal and vice-principal who have always encouraged my ideas and without my husband and my sons especially."