Actress is rewarded for quality teaching

Someone from one of the top schools in the country took home the county's top teaching honors Monday night for the second consecutive year.

Heather Davidson, a drama teacher at John S. Davidson Fine Arts Magnet School, was named the 2008 Richmond County Teacher of the Year during a banquet at the Augusta Marriott Hotel & Suites. Last year, her colleague Aletha Snowberger received the honor.

She was so impressed hearing the biographies of the other finalists that she nearly forgot that she was a finalist herself, Mrs. Davidson recalled afterward, but then her name was announced as the overall Teacher of the Year.

"I felt like I was being awakened from a really nice dream," she said.

Mrs. Davidson is in her 12th year of teaching. She began her professional career as an actress in New York and continues to act locally, most recently appearing in the Augusta Opera's production of Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street as the beggar woman.

Her acting even won her an Auggie for best actress for her portrayal of Maria in The Sound of Music with the Augusta Players.

But it's her teaching that she enjoys the most.

"That's where my heart really is," Mrs. Davidson said. "That is what I do more around the clock."

Teaching is one of the few professions where you get in return more than you give, she said.

"You get to see kids come out of their shells and become people you never thought they would be," Mrs. Davidson said.

When asked what makes her teaching stand out from that of others, she modestly replied that nothing does.

"I'm so completely honored and privileged to accept this award," Mrs. Davidson told the roomful of the school system's top teachers.

As Teacher of the Year, she received several gifts that were donated, including a laptop computer, a printer and a $1,600 diamond necklace.

The other finalists for Teacher of the Year were Patricia Davis, a kindergarten teacher at Sue Reynolds Elementary School; Bobbie Lawhead, an English teacher at Westside High School; Suzanne Swann, a fourth-grade teacher at Wheeless Road Elementary School; and Andrea Williams-Baugh, a math teacher at Tubman Middle School.

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

HEATHER DAVIDSON

POSITION: Drama teacher, John S. Davidson Fine Arts Magnet School

EXPERIENCE: 12 years

EDUCATION: Bachelor's degree in fine arts from Syracuse University

FAMILY: Husband, Dr. Bernard Davidson

RECOGNITION: 2008 Richmond County Teacher of the Year