CCSD Announces 2023-24 Teacher, Support Person of the Year

TOTY SPOTY winners graphic

October 24, 2023

The Clarke County School District is pleased to announce Ms. Jakelyn Spencer of Cleveland Road Elementary School as its 2023-24 Teacher of the Year and Ms. Lauren Cunningham of Howard B. Stroud Elementary School as its 2023-24 Support Person of the Year.

The winners were announced Tuesday, Oct. 24, during the CCSD Teacher of the Year/Support Person of the Year awards banquet at the University of Georgia Center for Continuing Education. In total, 48 people — building-level winners from each of CCSD’s 21 schools (14 elementary schools, four middle schools, three high schools), Early Learning Center East and West locations, and the Athens Community Career Academy —  were celebrated at the banquet by the district in partnership with the Foundation for Excellence in Public Education in Clarke County and Georgia United Credit Union. 

“The two individuals chosen to represent our district during this school year truly embody the district’s core belief that students and staff deserve an environment where enthusiasm for learning is encouraged and modeled, and both work each day to create that positive environment,” said CCSD Superintendent Dr. Robbie Hooker. 

The winner of the Mae M. Whatley Teacher of the Year Award, Jakelyn Spencer has been with CCSD and Cleveland Road Elementary since the beginning of the 2020-21 school year and currently teaches third grade there. She also serves on the school’s Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS) team, the Teacher Advisory Board, the local school governance team (LSGT), and is involved with the After School Program. 

Prior to joining CCSD, Ms. Spencer worked in the West Lafayette, Indiana, school district as a Title I teacher following her graduation from Purdue University with a Bachelor of Science in Early Childhood Education & Exceptional Needs. She obtained a Master of Science in Special Education and Dyslexia Endorsement from the University of Georgia while working at UGA’s Child Development Lab at McPhaul Research Center and holds several certifications. 

“Nothing makes me happier than watching my students flourish and be successful,” Ms. Spencer said. “The thrill of witnessing that ‘clicking’ moment never gets old for me.”

Ms. Spencer was selected out of a group of three finalists for the Teacher of the Year award who were evaluated in their classrooms by the district Teacher of the Year committee and will now go on to represent CCSD in the state Teacher of the Year competition. Other finalists included Garry E. Grant of Clarke Middle School and Brad Williford of Clarke Central High School.

The winner of the Janis J. Stephens Support Person of the Year Award, Lauren Cunningham has spent her entire 22-year career in education with CCSD, including 21 years at Stroud where she serves as the school secretary and bookkeeper. 

“One of my favorite parts of my job is the interaction with our students, families, and staff,” Ms. Cunningham said. “I enjoy getting to build relationships with them throughout their time here. It’s amazing to see some of our previous students who come in the door with their children who now attend the school. I am proud that they know they can come to me for assistance and guidance. I love getting to be a part of their lives and being a Stroud Superstar.”