Two Southern Crescent-area teachers — one from Henry County and the other from Clayton County — have reasons to smile in their first year as educators.
Daniel Medders and Andrew Hoang recently were added to a list of 40 of Georgia's best and brightest new teachers, and each is in line to receive the New Teacher Assistance Grant from Georgia Power.
The pair join Jazmine McDaniel, a fourth-grade teacher at Pleasant Grove Elementary School in Stockbridge, who was recognized in September and awarded the $1,000 grant.
Medders is a fourth-grade math and language arts teacher at Hampton Elementary School in Hampton. He is a graduate of Gordon College in Barnesville, Ga.
Hoang is an eighth-grade honors physical science teacher at Elite Scholars Academy in Jonesboro. He is a graduate of Clayton State University in Morrow, Ga.
Teacher nominations for the grant awards were submitted to Georgia Power by the 20 Georgia public colleges and universities that have a school of education.
Officials said candidates had to be in the top 25 percent of their class academically, be a first-year teacher employed by a public school in Georgia, and demonstrate a high aptitude for teaching, in order to be considered for the grant.
The new teachers will be able to use their grant awards to purchase items such as books, educational materials, computers and other supplies. Each year since 2004, Georgia Power has awarded the $1,000 grants partly to help encourage new teachers to stay in the profession.
"This award will help ease ... financial burden by allowing these new teachers to purchase items to use in their classrooms as they see fit," said Georgia Power Community and Economic Development Vice President Kevin Fletcher. "Teacher retention is a national crisis, and an important goal here in the state.
"Research shows that approximately one-third of teachers leave the profession within five years of being hired," Fletcher said. "In order to support and keep these highly qualified teachers in the classroom, we have found that providing them with incentives early in their professional careers encourages them to continue educating the future workforce of the state."