Teacher of the year finalist: Sandra Owens

Sandra Owens knows something about service.


The Richmond County School System Teacher of the Year finalist dedicated 20 years of her life to the Army – more if you include her years as a “military brat” while her father served. Now Owens serves some of the smallest citizens – students at Freedom Park Elementary School at Fort Gordon.

Owens will join finalists Brigitte Holmes (Hephzibah High), Kia Mills (A.R. Johnson Magnet), Tonya Fulton (Morgan Road Middle) and Denise Pennywell (Glenn Hills Elementary) at the Teacher of the Year Banquet on Thursday at the Augusta Marriott. The recipient will receive a car, trophy, gift certificates and more.

If chosen, Owens won’t take all the glory herself.

“We have a county filled with school-level selected and unselected teachers of the year,” Owens said. “Yet for me it means that every person that has influenced my life has finally received their recognition through me.”

Like the other nominees, Owens has made an impact on the students’ lives. In May, a former student’s mother sent Owens an email telling her the effect she had on her son’s life while he was in her fourth and fifth grade classes. The mother attached a photo of her son in the fourth grade and another of him as a high school senior holding his acceptance letter to the U.S. Military Academy.

About Sandra Owens

Hometown: Elba, Ala.

Family: Husband (Calvin J.) Two sons (Calvin N. and Alexander)

Education: Bachelor’s degree from North Georgia College, 20 years in the Army, master’s degree from Eastern Washington University, master’s degree from Drexel University, specialist degree from Nova Southeastern University.

What is the most enjoyable aspect of teaching?

Knowing that I have positively impacted the lives of students by helping them to realize their potential in the world is the most enjoyable aspect of teaching. This applies not only to my current students but to my former students who have moved on and have even graduated from high school. A smile covers my heart and face when I open a letter, an email, or receive a visit from a former student who wants to share a life success with me.

What would you change about the teaching profession?

To change the image of educators. The effect of a good teacher on a child’s life is monumental. Educators are not just people who have summers off, but people who impact and change students’ lives. If the image of educators would improve, we may actually be able to reduce teacher attrition rates.