Teacher of the Year

Director of Curriculum and Instruction Yvette Newton presents Pierce County Teacher of the Year Christina (Athena) Harwood with a plaque.

Harwood instills love for art in her students

Athena Harwood’s excitement for art and her passion for creativity is contagious.

Teachers and administrators at Midway Elementary School quickly took note of the new teacher’s enthusiasm last year, and last week the entire school district did, too, as Harwood was named Pierce County’s Teacher of the Year at the school system’s county-wide meeting Thursday morning at First Baptist Church.

“What she does to inspire students in art is unreal. She’s phenomenal,” says Dr. Walker Todd, MES principal.

“I am both humbled and honored for this recognition. It made me incredibly proud that the Pierce County Board selected an art teacher for this award,” Harwood says. “I’m ecstatic that I can work in a system that supports the Arts and its teachers.”

Co-workers and administrators weren’t the only ones who recognized Harwood’s talents this year. Parents did, too.

“This teacher cultivated an environment that encouraged kids to share with each other, encourage each other, ask questions of each other and teach each other,” said one parent in a nominating letter.

Harwood implemented an annual art show at MES. Salvador Dali inspired pieces created by Harwood’s third, fourth and fifth fine arts students were some of her favorite pieces in the show. Her students’ masterpieces were displayed prominently along MES hallways throughout the year, and every student had at least one piece of art on display. The school halls were covered in self-portraits, water colored flower paintings and life size tempera paintings celebrating movement and art.

“Every piece of wall that could hold a piece of artwork was covered,” Harwood says. “It was a colorful intriguing display of all students’ diversities of talent, culture and ethnicity.”

Harwood holds a degree in early childhood education from Georgia Southern University. Previously she taught fourth and second grade at Center Elementary in Ware County and art at Ruskin Elementary in Ware for two years prior to transferring to MES last year.

Harwood is the daughter of Strat and Dr. Tammy Theologus. Harwood’s mother, Dr. Theologus is a former educator and former principal at Blackshear Elementary.

Harwood and her husband, Aaron, have two daughters.

Harwood received a plaque noting her honor, a bouquet of flowers and a check for $500.

Principals from each school also recognized their teachers of the year last week:

Blackshear Elementary School – Patricia Westberry

Patterson Elementary School – Millie Walker

Midway Elementary School – Athena Harwood

Pierce County Middle School – Sherri Herrin

Pierce County High School – Band Director Bob Edwards.