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Clayton announces 'Teacher of the Year' finalists

This year's six, recently announced finalists for Clayton County Public Schools' "Teacher of the Year" have spent a combined 78 years in the classroom. The list of finalists includes two elementary school teachers, three middle school teachers, and one high school teacher.

In a written statement, the district announced that this year's finalists are:

• McGarrah Elementary School fifth-grade teacher Fareedah Wright Lockhart,

• Lake City Elementary School first-grade teacher Natasha Clarke-Grant,

• Rex Mill Middle School middle grades teacher Samuel Wayne West,

• Lovejoy Middle School language arts teacher Natosha Williams,

• Kendrick Middle School family and consumer science teacher Susan G. Messer,

• Mundy's Mill High School social studies teacher Kenji L. Bell.

The finalists were all notified by a traveling caravan of school system officials on Sept. 9, according to the district's statement. The names were sent out to the media this week.

"Each of these teachers received a plant and a special classroom door sign recognizing their selection," the district announced in its written statement. "In the coming weeks, each finalist will be observed and interviewed by members of the district's selection committee."

The school system's annual "Teacher of the Year" ceremony, in which 63-school-level teachers of the year will be recognized, is scheduled to be held on Nov. 18, at the Clayton County Performing Arts Center. The school system's overall "Teacher of the Year" is typically announced several weeks before the annual ceremony.

According to the school system, West has taught 11 years; Lockhart, nine years; Clarke-Grant, eight years; Williams, 12 years; Messer, 31 years, and Bell, seven years.