Our Very Own Tracey Pendley is the State TOTY! First Time for APS in Nearly Four Decades!

I’m just beside myself right now and am beyond thrilled to share the news that our very own Tracey Pendley, fourth grade teacher at Burgess-Peterson Academy who is also our reigning winner of the district’s Excellence in Teaching Award, was just named the 2020 Georgia Teacher of the Year by State School Superintendent Richard Woods!

Woohoo! Congratulations, Tracey, on achieving this amazing honor! It is so well deserved.

The state of Georgia sees in you what we’ve seen in you from the very first time you stepped into an APS classroom, and that is how much love and passion you have for our students and for teaching, and the tremendous impact you’re having on our students’ lives and on their future.

Tracey once said, “I believe all students should have some magic in the classroom.” I just love that statement because it speaks so clearly to Tracey’s approach to teaching her students.

Tracey truly is an all-around winner because she is also the recipient of the 2018 Atlanta Families Award for Excellence in Education. Anyone who knows Tracey knows that she believes in the power of education and is deeply committed to social justice and educational equity.

Ms. Pendley’s personal commitment to and belief in our students is palpable, and it really shines through every day in the way she teaches.  We’re so proud of you, Tracey, and can’t thank you enough for being a part of our APS family!

Here’s a little known fact that speaks to how huge this honor is….APS has had only one state TOTY winner and that was in 1981. So, Tracey’s award tonight literally represents the first time in decades (38 years by my count!) that an APS teacher has nabbed this award. That’s one of the reasons why I’m so elated and so excited for Tracey.

As I mentioned, in addition to this state recognition, Tracey is APS’ reigning winner of our Excellence in Teaching Award. She received this recognition in October 2018, which highlights the District’s best, brightest and most accomplished classroom educators. Winning this recognition is no easy feat! Tracey was selected from the best of the best after a very rigorous process.

First, she won the excellence in teaching award at her school and then applied to be nominated for the District award. A nominating panel reviewed the nominees and narrowed the list down to nine semi-finalists and then selected a winner for each grade band:  elementary school, middle school and high school. Tracey won the elementary grade level and then she took home the big prize, winning the Excellence in Teaching award for the whole District!

Ms. Pendley began her teaching career with APS seven years ago as a 4th grade teacher and interventionist at Toomer Elementary. In 2013 she became a 4th grade teacher and mentor teacher for the CREATE teacher residency program where she has the opportunity to prepare future teachers and magnify the power of education at Burgess Peterson Academy.

Prior to coming to APS, Tracey was a 3rd grade teacher at Dodge Renaissance Academy in Chicago Public Schools from 2009 to 2012, and she was also the Director/Tutor of a ministry-based afterschool program in Greenville, South Carolina from 2002 to 2006. She earned her Master of Arts in Teaching from the University of Chicago, Urban Teacher Education Program and her Bachelor of Arts in Sociology and Religion from Furman University in Greenville, South Carolina.

In applying to teach at APS, Tracey said, “Every child is deserving of an education that challenges, fosters responsibility, and teaches about the world and the many possibilities for their own lives. In my classroom these beliefs translate into a literacy and numeracy rich environment in which daily differentiated instruction, relationship building, and critical thinking are key. I challenge students to think critically about important historical events and to draw connections between themselves and people of different races, cultures, and beliefs.”

Tracey, we love you and celebrate you for being a shining example of what teaching excellence is and should be not just in APS, but in the state of Georgia!


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