Mrs. Elizabeth Summerlin is Teacher of the Year for Mill Creek High School.
Mrs. Summerlin, who teaches AP and Honors US History, has been a teacher for about 15 years, including both her time as a teacher at the University of Georgia and her years at Mill Creek, and she hasn’t regretted it.
Summerlin said, “This is my ninth year teaching at Mill Creek. Before I taught at the public school level, I did some things related to education. I taught at University of Georgia for a few years while I was getting my graduate degree, so I taught on undergraduate courses in US history of UGA.”
Even as an educator, Summerlin learns new things all the time from her students and fellow faculty members.
Summerlin said, “There are so many things involved in the teaching profession that have nothing to do with teaching, and just teacher duties and responsibilities that can often get in the way and bring you down. But not getting lost in those is something that’s really important and just having a strong foundation as to why you teach [and] what you’re here for.”
Even when receiving Teacher of the Year, Mrs. Summerlin says she does it all for her students.
“I think it does reflect all the hard work I put in, but again, I’m into teaching for helping students, and they’re always going to be more students to help, more students to help inspire, and more to just uplift. I’m certainly appreciative, and it might have been my peak, but I hope that there are more peaks in my career, and certainly, I know there will be more students and more happiness to spread.” She said.
According to some of Summerlin’s current and past students, her teaching technique is quite different from other teachers. She proudly agrees with them.
Summerlin said, “We have fun, and I think I explain things in a way that students understand. I’m willing to make myself part of a joke. I am a walking joke, but I feel like I am also someone who has a lot of clout, and I have a lot that I can offer people. I
“We need to laugh; we need to do that because we’re people, and what kind of social studies teacher would I be if we’re not talking about people and connections with people? Because that’s really what it’s all about for me.”
“And you’re probably not going to remember something about the Erie Canal, but you might remember something about human nature and human relationships. And so that’s really what I see myself doing, helping you understand people and understand human nature.”
Mrs. Summerlin will be a choice for Teacher of the Year for Gwinnett County. The semi-finalist will be announced in mid-October, and the teacher of the year for 2019-2020 will be announced on November 14 at The Annual Teacher of the Year Banquet.