Teacher of the Year finalist: Brigitte Holmes

It wasn’t the job Brigitte Holmes imagined she would be doing, but it’s the one she has grown to love. For 15 years, Holmes was a veterinary nurse before life circumstances required a career change.


Now the forensics and science teacher at Hephzibah High is one of five finalists for Teacher of the Year in the Richmond County School System. On Thursday, Holmes, Denise Pennywell (Glenn Hills Elementary), Kia Mills (A.R. Johnson Magnet), Tonya Fulton (Morgan Road Middle) and Sandra Owens (Freedom Park Elementary) will gather for the the Teacher of the Year Banquet at the Augusta Marriott at the Convention Center. The recipient will receive a car, trophy, gift certificates and more.

Holmes said that winning would be an affirmation of the decision she made to become a teacher 15 years ago. She has e xperienced other benefits with her career change including establishing relationships with her students, a valuable part of teaching in high school

“I feel that it is important to establish that relationship with my students so that they don’t feel invisible,” she said. “I can discover their gifts and their interests and incorporate those things into lessons that will hold greater relevance and meaning for my students. I have learned to be present for my students, learning with them as much as teaching them.”

With those relationships, Holmes hopes to have made a difference in how they think and react to the world around them.

“I hope that I have instilled in my students the ability to be awed by the mysterious, to be curious about the unknown, to be brave when life is unsettled, to stand up for what is right, to recognize others’ gifts, to respect opinions of others even if they differ from your own, and to recognize obstacles as opportunities,” she said.

About Brigitte Holmes

Hometown: Augusta.

Education: Bachelor’s degree from Augusta University, master’s degree from Southern Wesleyan and working on doctorate at Capella University

Family: Husband (Tyner)

What is the most enjoyable aspect of teaching?

I find the most enjoyable aspect of teaching is seeing my students get excited about learning something new. I try to teach my students about more than just the subject of science but also about life. Science happens in life daily and when my students can make those connections between what we are studying in class and what they experience in their daily life that makes me happy.

What would you change about the profession?

I would like to see smaller class sizes so that I can give each student more of my time and attention. I would like to see greater parent involvement, especially in the high school years. When students come into high school it seems that parent involvement decreases but the truth is, high school students need their parents support and involvement even more because of the multitude of distractions they face. I would like to see more appreciation and greater respect for the teaching profession, then possibly we may experience a shift in the public’s view of teaching from, “If this career doesn’t work out, I can always teach” to “I choose teaching as a career.”