October 30, 2020

2017 Georgia DOE Readers of the Year

Pictured above at the Georgia DOE (L-R): HCMS ELA instructor Kim Stallings, Georgia Superintendent of Schools Richard Woods, Ethan Pendoras-Johnson, Whit Pope, CES Principal Dawn Bennett, and HCMS Principal Brian Hadley (Photo: Troyanne Parham)

(Atlanta, GA) — Two Heard County students were recognized at the Georgia Department of Education this week as 2017 Georgia Readers of the Year.

Whit Pope was honored as the Georgia Middle School Reader of the Year and Ethan Pendoras-Johnson was distinguished as the Elementary School (PreK-5th) Reader of the Year.

Pope (now a freshman at HHS represented Heard County Middle School with Pendoros-Johnson representing Centralhatchee Elementary.

The students were accompanied on the trip by their respective school principals Brian Hadley (HCMS) and Dawn Bennett (HES), along with Kim Stallings (8th grade ELA instructor and elementary school reading instructional coach, Troyanne Parham.

They were welcomed by Georgia State Superintendent of Schools Richard Woods.

Whit Pope with Superintendent Woods (Photo: Troyanne Parham)

The Reader of the Year competition was developed to encourage students to share what reading means to them and how reading is essential in all areas of learning for them to be successful.

The celebration provides an opportunity to celebrate students’ love of reading and how it is influencing their lives and to recognize student achievement.

Students must be recommended by a teacher with a letter of recommendation along with a written essay by the students explaining what reading means to them and the importance of reading for their future.

This competition has been engaging and honoring Georgia students since 1985 and is open to any student grades PreK-12 and currently enrolled in Georgia schools. The competition is sponsored by the Georgia Reading Association (GRA) with support from the English Language Arts Department of the Georgia Department of Education.

GRA had 50+ counties and schools participate in 2017 with over 145 nominees for this year’s Reader of the Year. In May, winners were announced at a ceremony in Warner Robbins.

Students were awarded Reader of the Year, Reading Achievement of the Year, or ESOL Student Achievement.

There were a total of 19 winners representing first and second place. Heard County Schools claimed seven of those winners.

In addition to the two Reader of the Year honorees, second place winners from Heard included: Mary Sue Savage (High School Reader of the Year), Zoe Spradlin (6-12th Reading Achievement of the Year), Trevor Baxter (6-12th Reading Achievement of the Year), Carson Sweet (PreK-5th Reading Achievement of the Year), and Audrienne Nachtigall (PreK-5th Reading Achievement of the Year).

Spradlin and Baxter tied for second place at the middle school level.

Ethan Pendoras-Johnson with Superintendent Woods (Photo: Troyanne Parham)


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