ATLANTA — On Friday night, Colquitt County became home to the state’s Teacher of the Year.

In a telephone call at 9:45 p.m., county schools Superintendent Leonard McCoy informed The Observer that longtime Colquitt County High School teacher Gwen Desselle has been named Georgia’s 2009-2010 Teacher of the Year.

The announcement came during a banquet at the Georgia Aquarium.

“We are tremendously excited,” Desselle’s husband, Jim Desselle, said in a telephone call about 10 p.m. He was summoned from the phone before he could give any further comment or put his wife on the line.

Gwen Desselle — a social studies instructor who has taught 32 years, all but four years of that in Colquitt County — was named the system’s teacher of the year in October. It was her first time being named CCHS’s top teacher.

Teachers of the Year from each of Georgia’s school systems were winnowed down to 10 who competed for Friday night’s honor. Others in the running were: Tiffany Todd, Southeast Bulloch High School; Mark Lang, Camden Middle School; Michele Rigsby, BelAir Elementary School, Columbia County; Suzy Besson-Martilotta, Chattahoochee Elementary School, Forsyth County; Merrill Boynton-Cheyne, Harris County Carver Middle School; Sandy Akin, East Jackson Comprehensive High School; Krista Pearson, Lowndes High School; Kathie Wood, Marietta Middle School; and Jennifer Beckum Irvin, Toombs County High.

Desselle will spend the 2009-2010 school year as an ambassador and advocate for the teaching profession and will compete for National Teacher of the Year, which will be announced in April. The National Teacher of the Year program dates back to 1952 and is a project of the Council of Chief State School Officers, according to the CCSSO’s website, www.ccsso.org.

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