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Clark Creek Elementary School STEM Academy science teacher Karen Garland is one of seven educators statewide asked to serve as a virtual specialist to advise the state agency on best practices for science instruction and help lead online professional development sessions for fellow science teachers.

A Cherokee County School District teacher has been selected by the Georgia Department of Education to share her science instruction knowledge with educators statewide, officials said Friday.

Clark Creek Elementary School STEM Academy science teacher Karen Garland is one of seven educators statewide asked to serve as a virtual specialist to advise the state agency on best practices for science instruction and help lead online professional development sessions for fellow science teachers. The virtual specialists each represent a different grade level, with Garland chosed to advise for grades kindergarten through second.

“Teachers enjoy sharing ideas, strategies, or encouraging words to motivate, inspire, or reignite educator passion,” Garland said. “Connecting with others provides a touchstone for the inexperienced ones, answering questions on protocol and lesson plans and translating school culture. Connecting provides an avenue to share our strengths, while we benefit from the involvement and advice of others. As I believe in the whole child, I also believe in the emotional well-being of my peers and helping them reconnect to their purpose, creating a teacher growth mindset, and building emotional resilience.”

Garland, who teaches science lab classes to students in kindergarten through fifth grade, was named the Georgia 2020 Agriculture in the Classroom Teacher of the Year by Georgia Farm Bureau this fall and was honored as the Georgia Science Teachers Association 2020 Teacher of the Year for Elementary Schools in January. She is her school’s 2020 Teacher of the Year and was one of four finalists for the system-wide title. Garland began her classroom teaching career at Clark Creek in 2012 after 17 years as an environmental educator with a nature center and statewide nonprofit organization.

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