Martha Thomason, a teacher in 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.
This award is given annually to a gifted teacher who demonstrates exceptional teaching, dedication and positive parent relationships in their school, community and the state, according to Dalton Public Schools. Thomason began her career in the gifted program as a parent volunteer in 1996, then achieved her certification and became a gifted program teacher soon after.
Thomason "is laser focused on the needs of her students, (she) researches innovative strategies to make sure that the individual needs of her students are met at a deep level, (and) her students (truly) become 'hers' (as) she pushes them to reach for their dreams," said Lisa Hackney, a director of school support for Dalton Public Schools. "Her classroom is engaging, and the learning sticks."
Thomason "guides and encourages her students to think beyond the box and to not give up when things get difficult," added Hackney, who nominated Thomason for the award. "She shepherds her students through the hard parts and celebrates their victories."
Thomason has also guided myriad Westwood students as they designed inventions for competitions, including Tripp Phillips, who won a local entrepreneurial competition and went on to share his Le-Glue invention on the ABC television series "Shark Tank," said Scott Ehlers, Westwood's principal. Thomason is "extremely motivated, energetic and dedicated to the teaching profession, (and she) is always looking for new ways to connect learning and students."
Educators understand "that we can only control two things, 'the work we provide our students, and the relationships we build with them,'" Hackney said. "Thomason is a master at both."
For her indefatigable efforts in Westwood's gifted program, the Daily Citizen-News names Martha Thomason Citizen of the Week.