Michele Rigsby was named Columbia County's Teacher of the Year during a Thursday banquet at Savannah Rapids Pavilion.
The fourth-grade teacher at Bel Air Elementary School, and Lakeside High School graduate, credited a college professor she had at Furman University for helping her get to this point.
The professor inspired her to do the same for her own pupils, she said.
"You have to make it personal to them (her pupils) and give them something they can relate to," Mrs. Rigsby said. "It's all about developing relationships."
With the award comes $500 cash and $1,000 in gas gift certificates she can use with the one-year lease of a 2009 Mercedes she won.
Mrs. Rigsby was listed among five finalists for the honor, including Patty Barrett, of Cedar Ridge Elementary; Toni Cliatt, of Grovetown Middle; Emily King, of Riverside Middle; and Christi Thigpen, of Greenbrier Middle.
Faculty members from each school selected their candidates for the honors. A panel of three judges from outside Columbia County then chose the five finalists and the overall winner. Mrs. Rigsby will represent the county for Georgia's Teacher of the Year.
Also during the banquet, Jane Roupe, of Cedar Ridge Elementary, was recognized as the Media Specialist of the Year.
Reach Donnie Fetter at (706) 868-1222, ext. 115, or email@example.com.