Winner takes car home

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Perhaps one of the few educators who could pull this off, Aletha Snowberger uses a drink designed for astronauts to teach about a Chinese empire.

Richmond County Superintendent Dana Bedden (left) watches as teacher of the year Aletha Snowberger (right) hears that she will be the recipient of a 2008 Toyota Camry SE, which was donated by Toyota of Augusta.  Jackie Ricciardi/Staff
Jackie Ricciardi/Staff
Richmond County Superintendent Dana Bedden (left) watches as teacher of the year Aletha Snowberger (right) hears that she will be the recipient of a 2008 Toyota Camry SE, which was donated by Toyota of Augusta.

Tang is only one creative way she manages to make history real for her students, and it was such innovative teaching that earned Mrs. Snowberger Richmond County teacher of the year honors Monday night.

"I like to keep my students on their toes," she said in a speech at the awards banquet.

Whether using modern dance or pretending the classroom is a cave, the John S. Davidson Fine Arts Magnet School teacher keeps her history classes lively.

"When you walk into my classroom, it's my performance, it's my stage," Mrs. Snowberger, 31, said.

And it's an act she learned at a young age.

Mrs. Snowberger tutored her best friend in grade school and was credited by her teacher for helping her classmate do so well, said last year's teacher of the year, Mary Frances Howard, in introducing her successor.

Born into a family of educators, Mrs. Snowberger recalled the impact her father had on the community and the appreciation people showed him.

"I can remember day in and day out going out into the community and people would stop him on the street," she said. "I thought if I could make a difference in that many people's lives, I would have a career that would mean something."

Her father taught, so did her mother and her godmother. Mrs. Snowberger now teaches at her alma mater alongside her mother-in-law.

"I kept education all in the family," she said, adding that it was particularly emotional having her parents share in her achievement.

Her father nearly died after a massive heart attack when she was 10 years old, and her mother is a breast cancer survivor.

"For them to be here to see this accomplishment means more to me than you'll ever know," Mrs. Snowberger said. "Thank you, mom and dad, for everything you did for me, and I hope I'm making you proud."

So what does the county's teacher of the year do to celebrate her new title, diamond necklace and 2008 Toyota Camry?

She gets back to work. Mrs. Snowberger said she was heading home to grade essays.

"It's really delightful to watch her in the classroom," Davidson Principal Vicky Addison said after the banquet. "She has a bubbly personality, but she is also very intelligent."

"She's so enthusiastic about what she does it just pours over into the classroom," Mrs. Addison said.

Other finalists were Wilma Becker of Lucy C. Laney High School, Christina Mode of Tutt Middle School, Judy Ward of T.W. Josey High School and Andre Mountain of Monte Sano Elementary School.

Reach Greg Gelpi at (706) 828-3851 or greg.gelpi@augustachronicle.com.

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