Shelley Thornton, who dreamed of becoming a teacher while growing up in the Harris County School District, now is the school system's Teacher of the Year.
Thornton teaches fourth grade at Mulberry Creek Elementary School. She is a native of Fortson, Ga., and has been a professional educator for seven years.
"I have experienced the growth and success of our school system, and I am proud to be a part of such a wonderful program," Thornton said in a news release. "Without the support and mentorship of my family, colleagues and administration, this honor wouldn't be possible.
"I would also like to recognize all of my students and their families for their continued support and efforts. I was once told, 'Do what you love, and it will never be deemed as work.' I hold that statement dear to my heart by living my childhood dream of becoming a teacher. I feel blessed to have the opportunity to do what I love, and that is to make a difference in a child's future."
Jeff Branham, the district's interim superintendent, said he saw Thornton's commitment to academic excellence and her students while he was principal of Mulberry Creek form 1998-2010.
"Her passion and drive has enabled her to reach students of all levels, taking them further than they ever
imagined possible," Branham said in the release. " She is creative, innovative and insightful in her approach to teaching and the entire learning process."
By winning the district's award, Thornton will represent Harris County in the Georgia Teacher of the Year competition.