When Jasamine Dixon was working on on a history degree at Albany State University, she became a part-time substitute at the Dougherty County School System.

The idea was to work a few days a week as a sub. Becoming a full-time teacher was not in the mix.

Then life got in the way.

“My first day as a substitute was tough, to say the least, but I was determined to go back the next day and not let those 13 year olds defeat me,” Dixon recalled. “Two days turned into a long-term sub position. It later became clear to me that the original purpose that I had been chasing was not the purpose God had planned for my life. I discovered I was blessed with a gift to uplift children through education.

“A few days later, I made a decision. I decided I was going to become a teacher. I am eight years into my career and I love knowing that there are many more lives I can touch as I continue this journey.”

Dixon, who has taught at Albany Middle School since 2013, believes nurturing mutual trust with her students is fundamental in the learning process.

 “I discovered early in my career that most children, especially those with trust issues, couldn’t care less about what you know and want to teach them until they are certain you care,” Dixon said. “Just as my students realize when I won’t give up on them and they exceed my expectations, I know I will hold myself accountable with each broken spirit and ‘lost cause’ that comes into my classroom.”

The 2017-18 Teacher of the Year Dinner will be at 5:30 p.m. Thursday at the Hilton Garden Inn on Front Street. The system also will recognize its retiring educators at the event.

TEACHER OF THE YEAR FINALIST: Chevonne Denson saw teaching as her destiny
TEACHER OF THE YEAR FINALIST: No career path doubts for Monroe High math teacher Torre
TEACHER OF THE YEAR FINALIST: ‘Divine intervention’ guided Jacqueline Floyd to the classroom

In addition to Dixon, the other finalists are Chevonne Denson, Albany Middle School; Jacqueline Floyd, Westover High School; Torre’ Mills, Monroe High School; Rebecca Strickland, Lake Park Elementary School; Jordan Waller, Martin Luther King Elementary School; Shane Williams, Lincoln Magnet School, and Lydia Zuern, Sherwood Acres Elementary School.

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