Marcella Deriso, the Georgia Power local manager in Pelham, presents Steven Hardy with his award.
CAMILLA, Ga. -- Steven Hardy, a human anatomy and biology teacher at Mitchell County High School, was among 44 of Georgia's best and brightest new teachers to receive a New Teacher Assistance Grant from Georgia Power.
Teacher nominations were submitted to Georgia Power by the 22 Georgia public colleges and universities that have a school of education.
"When I got the email from Georgia Power, I thought it was a bad thing at first. Now I'm glad I called them," Hardy said. "I had no idea I had even been nominated. One of my professors, Chandra Power, nominated me. It was a complete and total surprise.
"I am honored and thrilled."
To be eligible for the grant, candidates had to be in the top 25 percent of their class academically, be a first-year teacher employed by a public school in Georgia and demonstrate a high aptitude for teaching.
"Teacher retention is a national crisis and an important goal for our state," said Pedro Cherry, Georgia Power's vice president of Community and Economic Development. "Georgia Power is proud to support this effort to keep these highly trained teachers in the classrooms. We feel businesses must lend their support to improving the quality of education in the state to make certain we have an educated work force that will ensure Georgia's economic viability."
Since 2004, Georgia Power has awarded the $1,000 grants annually to help encourage new teachers to stay in the profession and to provide them with much-needed funds to purchase classroom supplies, equipment or materials not provided by their schools.
A graduate of Georgia College and State University, Hardy can use the grant to purchase items such as books, educational materials, computers and other supplies.
"This program is one of Georgia Power's many ways of showing new teachers that their contributions are appreciated, and we hope they will remain committed to the profession," said Cherry.