Georgia Teacher of Year Inspires Gordon State Future Educators

Georgia Teacher of the Year Tracey Pendley shared her experiences in the education sector Wednesday in an open session at Gordon State College.
Georgia Teacher of the Year Tracey Pendley shared her experiences in the education sector Wednesday in an open session at Gordon State College.

BY: Katheryne A. Fields, Gordon State College Director of Marketing

Describing herself as an overcomer with a desire to inspire educators to consider social and emotional learning skills in the classroom, the 2020 Georgia Teacher of the Year, Tracey Nance Pendley challenged future instructors in the School of Education at Gordon State College Wednesday.

Pendley shared her personal reality of overcoming obstacles from a childhood filled with the complications of a mother who was an addict and died when Pendley was 13-years-old. She stated that teachers do not always have the complete story and background to serve and connect with a student, who may not provide personal details and experiences.

“In fifth grade, Pendley said a phenomenal teacher, Dr. Bobbi Ford, changed the trajectory of her path. A Teacher of the Year herself, Ford “brought the magic,” Pendley said. “Now, 24 years later, I’m trying to do everything Dr. Ford did for me. After I shared my story on Facebook, several people commented. I witnessed Dr. Ford’s seeds were changing generations.”

“I didn’t tell you my story to feel sorry for me,” Pendley said. “I overcame my adversity with the help of educators and an uncle who invested in me and I encourage you to plant seeds that benefit students.

“Lead with your story. Your kids and colleagues want to know you,” she added. “My story says I wouldn’t make it. I had several teachers who stepped in. It’s going to take everyone working together to flip the script of what is going on in education. Focus on growth. Equality is not equity. When you are tired, you can’t quit. Dig in and plant some seeds.”

Pendley, a fourth-grade teacher at Burgess Peterson Academy in Atlanta Public Schools, was named APS’ Excellence in Teaching Award for 2018-2019, which highlights the district’s best, brightest and most accomplished classroom educators. She is also the recipient of the 2018 Atlanta Families Award for Excellence in Education.

teacher of the year
Georgia Teacher of the Year Tracey Pendley dedicated time to field questions from Gordon State College School of Education students Wednesday.

According to the state Department of Education, Pendley graduated from Furman University in 2006 with a bachelor’s degree in sociology and religion and completed a master’s in teaching in 2009 through the University of Chicago’s Urban Teacher Education Program. She has been a classroom teacher in Atlanta Public Schools since 2012; prior to that, she taught in the Chicago Public Schools.

“Tracey Pendley’s academic pedigree is impressive,” said Dr. Joseph Jones, dean for the institution’s School of Education. “She has a desire and dedication to create a world that is better for students. I know she inspired our students. We were honored to have her on campus.”