ALBANY, Ga. -- Sherwood Acres fifth grade math teacher Marcus Washington, one of eight candidates for Dougherty County's 2014 Teacher of the Year, uses two words to describe his path to the classroom -- 'natured' and 'nurtured.'
"One could say that I was both natured and nurtured to become a teacher," Washington said.
"Nature gifted me with three exceptional teacher role models in my family. My mother, her brother and her sister each began their teaching careers in one of the most difficult, poverty-stricken, crime-plagued school districts in our nation -- Newark, N.J., Public Schools. Their successful service in their challenging environments is a continued inspiration to me.
"Nurture came to play in 1995 during my sophomore year in high school. I had aspirations of playing soccer in college but those aspirations quickly changed the day I was struck in the face with a soccer ball causing severe trauma to my right eye. The severity of the injury left me unable to attend school for two months."
It was at this point, teachers stepped in.
"During this time three different teachers had a significant impact on my path as a student," Washington recalled. "Because I was unable to attend school the possibility of me being retained because very real. Those teachers wrote letters on my behalf to testify that my standing as an excellent student and the work I had already completed would be enough to satisfy their class requirements.
"Those memories challenge me every day to find the right way to help my students."
The DCSS's 2014 Teacher of the Year, selected from the best among a group of teachers from each of the district's 27 schools, will be announced Thursday at a banquet at the downtown Hilton Garden Inn.