Glynn County’s newest teacher of the year paid tribute to the woman who sat in her seat decades ago on Wednesday night.
“I was influenced by a woman named Mary Murphy who was … my English teacher at Glynn Academy many years ago,” said Paige Browning after being named 2021 Teacher of the Year at ‘a ceremony at Brunswick High School. “And I went to college knowing this was who I wanted to be when I grew up.”
Browning was celebrated along with many other educators at the ceremony. Teacher of the Year representing each local public school in the county, as well as Brunswick Christian Academy, College of Coastal Georgia, Heritage Christian Academy, St. Simons Christian School and St. Francis Xavier Catholic School, were honored. .
Principals from each school took to the podium to talk about the teacher chosen by their school, each of whom was chosen by their peers to represent the school.
Teaching is a science, an art and a profession, said Scott Spence, principal of Glynn County Schools.
“Each of you here tonight is not here just because of teacher evaluations and test scores, which I’m sure is going well,” he said. “… You are here tonight because your colleagues think you have perfected your art to such an extent that they have chosen you to represent them as their Teacher of the Year. I cannot imagine a higher honor.
Over 50 companies and groups sponsored this year’s Teacher of the Year ceremony.
“We couldn’t do this without the business partners in our community who sponsored this event,” said Leah Hall, a Georgia Power Co. employee who helped organize the event. “Every year they withdraw funds and invest them in this event so that you can be honored, your teachers can be honored, your loved ones can be honored.”
The finalists for the Glynn County Teacher of the Year award were Erica Grady from Brunswick High, Melanie Weese from Jane Macon Middle School, Margaret Mimbs from Oglethorpe Point Elementary, Gabriella Benton from Sterling Elementary and Browning from Glynn Academy.
Three judges – retired educators Sung Hui Lewis and Rhonda Jaudon as well as CCGA professor Jack Parish – spent time in the finalist classrooms before choosing this year’s winner.
Matthew Blackstone, Director of Glynn Academy, said Browning embodies tradition, honor and excellence every day.
“It’s not just the impact it has on students, which is huge,” he said. “Have you ever met a teacher who makes you want to be a teacher? I think we all have that. She is that teacher.
The 90-minute lessons happen in the blink of an eye when an engaging teacher like Browning is at the helm, he said.
“There isn’t a kid who leaves school who isn’t prepared for the next level if that’s what he chooses to do,” he said. “She has such an impact.”
Browning teaches AP courses and chairs the English department at Glynn Academy. She worked as an educator for almost 30 years.
She said she was honored and touched to be named Teacher of the Year 2021.
“I am a product of the Glynn County school system,” she said. “I love children. I love my work. I know we all do. Those of us in this room are here for a reason.