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Tift College of Education Alumna Named Cobb County Teacher of the Year

November 6, 2007

Mercer University Contact:
Anna Sandison  (478) 301-2232
Cobb County School District Contact:
Jay Dillon  (770) 426-3345

The Cobb County School District announced the selection of Gina Coss, fifth grade teacher at Sedalia Park Elementary School, as the 2007-2008 district Teacher of the Year. Coss earned a Master of Education degree from Mercer University's Tift College of Education.

Sedalia Park principal Dr. Patricia Thomas, Superintendent Fred Sanderson and other central office administrators presented Coss with the honor during a surprise announcement Sept. 4. She now represents Cobb in the statewide program, which will announce a winner in May 2008. Coss is also the elementary level Teacher of the Year, which nominated her for the district-wide merit.

Gina Coss began her career not with books and blackboards, but with stocks and bonds. After several years working in brokerage firms, Coss turned her energy from building profits to building young minds as a teacher. “I decided to become what I believe I was meant to be: a teacher,” said Coss. Upon completion of a Master’s degree in Early Childhood Education from Mercer University, Coss joined the staff at Sedalia Park in 2001 and has never looked back. She feels her strengths as a teacher are in developing good work ethics in her elementary students, emphasizing responsibility, accountability and honesty. “The more ownership students take of their learning, the more their learning will cement and increase,” said Coss. She also cites the influence of her fellow teachers at Sedalia Park and describes her colleagues’ work ethic as “awe-inspiring.”

Coss has also been involved with a variety of community activities outside the classroom. She works annually with Sedalia Park’s Relay for Life team, raising funds and awareness for cancer research. Coss serves on the Parent Advisory Board for Joe Corley American Karate Studios, volunteers as an usher at the Fox Theatre in Atlanta and judges senior projects for Wheeler High School students. She and her family are active members of the Catholic Church of St. Ann, where she serves in the Parish School of Religion and plays in the Handbell Choir. Coss is also continuing her own education at Kennesaw State University where she is enrolled in a dual specialist/doctorate program in education. She lives in Marietta with her husband and two daughters.

Gina Coss feels that education reform begins with teachers stepping up as leaders in their respective schools. “All teachers must take on formal and/or informal leadership roles. While most teachers acknowledge that they “lead” students in their class, many teachers do not quite see themselves as leaders beyond the walls of their rooms. In my opinion, teachers regularly underestimate themselves. It is important that teachers know that they CAN be effective leaders, and it is this leadership which will sustain significant change for the betterment of student achievement.”

The Cobb County School District began recognizing Teachers of the Year for all three levels in 2004, providing an opportunity to recognize more than one outstanding educator and allowing the honorees to showcase the unique talents and skills needed at each academic level. Each school chooses its own Teacher of the Year who is, in turn, nominated for the district-wide honor. Each application is read and rated independently by a committee of administrators. The highest-rated applicants from elementary, middle, and high schools become the Teachers of the Year. The District Teacher of the Year is chosen from these three honorees. A committee selects the overall winner based on written applications and interviews with the candidates.

The Cobb Chamber of Commerce unveiled Coss' Teacher of the Year handprint during the 19th annual ‘Give Our Schools a Hand’ ceremony Oct. 3 at Glover Park on Marietta Square.