A Thomas County Middle School teacher has been named 2016 National Teacher of the Year by the American Association of Family and Consumer Science (AAFCS). Megan Palmer, who was the 2015 Georgia Family and Consumer Sciences Teacher of the Year, competed against other teachers from all over the nation for the top spot.
Palmer will receive the award in June at the AAFCS 107th Annual Conference and Expo in Bellevue, Washington.
“It is an incredible personal honor to be recognized by my profession, but this award also recognizes the support I have received from my school district and community,” said Palmer. “It makes me feel like what I’m doing is making a difference. I am so fortunate to have had the opportunity to develop and implement this program.”
For the past 12 years, Palmer has taught her students how to be involved in the community, how to use math and chemistry in sewing and cooking, and how to look for leadership opportunities. The Family and Consumer Sciences (FACS) program was new to TCMS when Palmer was hired, and she was responsible for building the program from the ground up.
“Our goals when beginning a new FACS program at TCMS were to help students broaden their understanding of career options and to help provide a smooth transition between middle and high school Career Technical Education Programs,” said Beth Adams, Director of Career, Technical and Agricultural Education. “I believe Mrs. Palmer has played an important part in helping meet those goals. She is an enthusiastic teacher who truly cares about students and the FACS program.”
As a family and consumer sciences teacher in grades fifth through eighth, she is also an advisor for the Thomas County Middle School chapter of the Family, Career and Community Leaders of America (FCCLA), organizing extra-curricular service projects and encouraging her students to become involved with the community.
“As a teacher, Mrs. Palmer is an excellent role model for our middle school students,” said Dr. Kathy Keown. “She is married and the mother of two small children. She is active in our community and in her local church. She makes it a point to be positive with both staff and students, always smiling and frequently encouraging others.”
After deciding she wanted to be a teacher, Palmer chose a career in FACS through her involvement in FCCLA in high school and college. She served as a state officer in high school, charter member of the Alumni & Associates on the collegiate level at the University of Georgia, and was awarded an honorary membership while in college.
Palmer said, “Being an advisor for FCCLA is fulfilling because I get the opportunity to build extra-special relationships with these students. Allowing them opportunities they may not have otherwise and encouraging them to seek leadership in various ways is always rewarding. Because I was so involved when I was younger, I love seeing where the path takes them!”
“My best days in the classroom are when students are enjoying the learning process,” Palmer added. “Utilizing the old and new ways of Home Economics and FACS brings some familiarity to the students and brings them knowledge for real life that is so important.”
Through her teaching career, Palmer has worked in both Oconee and Decatur counties in Georgia. Palmer has been with the Thomas County School System for three years.
“In her three years with us, she has organized the school system’s chapter of FCCLA, and she has created excitement and enthusiasm for her program,” said Dr. Dusty Kornegay, Thomas County School System Superintendent. “Students elect to take her class, and her classes are filled to capacity virtually every nine weeks with students who are eager to take her classes. We are honored to have her as a faculty member as she is recognized as a leader state-wide, and now nation-wide, for her knowledge and experience in the Family and Consumer Science area.”
Helen Carter, Georgia Affiliate Family and Consumer Sciences President said, “On behalf of the Georgia Affiliate it is with honor that we congratulate Megan Whitworth Palmer, Ed.S., CFCS, as the National Teacher of the Year. Mrs. Palmer shows great passion for the Family and Consumer Sciences field and displays it not only in teaching middle school youth, but in her everyday life.”
The AAFCS National Teacher of the Year award was established in 1974 to recognize exemplary teachers who utilize cutting-edge methods, techniques and activities to provide stimulus and visibility to family and consumer sciences in elementary and secondary education.