Richmond County Teacher of the Year finalist: Tonya Fulton

“Wink, snap. Wink, snap,” Tonya Fulton said as she demonstrated those actions for her students as they followed her lead.


Just a little movement in the middle of class got her students at Morgan Road Middle School back on track and ready to complete a group assignment. These little “brain breaks” are just one of the things that helped Fulton earn a nomination for Richmond County School System’s Teacher of the Year. The other nominees are Brigitte Holmes (Hephzibah High), Kia Mills (A.R. Johnson Magnet), Sandra Owens (Freedom Park K-8) and Denise Pennywell (Glenn Hills Elementary).

Following the brief time out, Fulton went back to assisting students with their assignment, using real life examples to describe literary elements.

Fulton has been teaching for 21 years, 14 of them in Richmond County schools and four in Lincoln County. She also taught while living in Hawaii. Fulton said she would like to be known for encouraging her students to do their best to become a productive citizen.

“If you do the best you can, that is all that is required,” she said.

Although Fulton is the teacher, her students are not the only ones learning in her classroom. Fulton’s students have taught her to think quickly, and she has watched many of them overcome hardships and succeed.

“They know that something is better on the other side and where they come from does not define them,” she said. “(They) define it.”

Fulton believes teachers have to be able to love their students despite where they’re coming from and teach them to know that anything is possible when they apply themselves.

“You got to love it,” she said. “It’s not in you if you don’t love it.”

The Teacher of the Year Banquet will be held Nov. 2 at the Augusta Marriott. The recipient will receive a car, trophy, gift certificates and more.

About Tonya Fulton

Hometown: Lincolnton, Ga.

Family: Dereck (husband), two daughters (Kalin and Kennedi)

Education: Bachelor’s degree from Paine College; Master’s degree from United States Sports Academy; Specialist degree from Cambridge College; Pursuing doctorate from North Central University

What is the most enjoyable aspect of teaching? Seeing the students glow. When that lightbulb goes off and they get excited. It makes my heart smile just to see that glow.

What would you change about the teaching profession? State mandated testing. I feel like it’s bias because when it comes down to our (special education students) the teachers always have to modify but on the state standard, they don’t do the same. The only thing they do is have someone read to them or have the computer read to them. They treat them as an equal, but we don’t treat them as an equal which I think is unfair.