ALBANY -- It wasn't an easy decision, but through consulting with her husband and mother Tammy Gregors was able to give up a lucrative 15-year career as an administrative assistant.
But it wouldn't be until she took a leap of faith, so to speak, that she decided to embark on the career change.
"When I went to work to turn in my resignation, fear overtook me. I put it off," said Gregors, a Sherwood Acres Elementary second-grade teacher and one of eight finalists for the Dougherty County School System Teacher of the Year award. "The next Sunday at church, I prayed that God would let me know (in a way that I could not over analyze) what his will was for my life. The preacher then gave a sermon on Exodus 14:13-16. These were the same verses my mother had given me the week before.
"It was exactly what I needed," Gregors wrote in her teacher of the year application. "I went on to resign from my job, graduate from Albany State University with a 4.0 GPA and never missed paying a bill. Actually, we had money left over each month because of some scholarships I received."
Gregors considers teaching her ministry.
"This is what I wake up for every morning and what I want to do," said Gregors, who volunteered to coach her daughter's YMCA soccer team the last three years. "I work harder now than I ever had at any other job I've had, but I love it. I wouldn't change a thing."
Teaching accountability and helping her students become good citizens are important to Gregors, who has been married 20 years to her husband Joe and has two daughters, Carson, 14, and Casey, 9.
"One thing I really try to stress to the students is how important it is for them to treat others with respect," Gregors said. "When they do something wrong, it's OK for them to say sorry. I tell them just because you say I'm sorry does not mean you're weak, but you're accepting responsibility for your actions."
Utilizing her past administrative background, Gregors capitalized on her love of organization and data to become a recognized leader at Sherwood Acres in data-driven instruction. She has also turned into a leader in the Dougherty County School System in the area of curriculum planning. The sixth-year teacher's efforts have helped her students achieve a 100 percent passing rate in 2008 and '09 on the Criterion-Referenced Competency Tests.
"My ability to analyze data from assessments and individualize student
learning is reaping great success with my students," said Gregors, who is pursuing a master's degree in measurement and evaluation from online university Western Governors based in Salt Lake City. "I see the benefits daily of my efforts. My students are engaged in the process of reaching their goals and they understand the value of good preparation. I am able to show them their progress with the various assessments I use and this gives them a true understanding of their potential."
Parent Kicheka Smith, who tries to help Gregors two to three times a month in class, appreciates how Gregors makes learning fun for her students.
"I like the fact that she's very energetic," Smith said. "She makes it fun and makes it interesting. She does it all to help the kids understand. She doesn't just teach, she goes outside-the-box so each individual will learn in their own way."
Student Kaliece Henry also likes Gregors' teaching style.
"I like the way she teaches us because it helps us learn," she said. "When we be good, we do special things like when I turned 7 we had a pajama party."
This is the third story of an eight-part series on the eight finalists for the Dougherty County School System's Teacher of the Year award. Wednesday's story will feature Northside Elementary School reading intervention teacher Angelyn Brooks Hammack.