2020 Teacher of the Year:
Tracey Nance Pendley is fiercely committed to student growth and educational equity. She describes her life as the story of the impact that great teachers have on students. Attending nine schools and living with nine guardians, Pendley and her twin relied heavily on their teachers while their single mother served time in prison and battled addiction and lung disease. Pendley earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in sociology and religion from Furman University in 2006, where she directed an afterschool program in three underserved neighborhoods. Pendley graduated from the University of Chicago's Urban Teacher Education Program (UTEP) in 2009 with a master’s in teaching, and began teaching third grade at a Chicago Public Turnaround School. Upon relocating to her hometown in 2012, Pendley joined Atlanta Public Schools where she currently teaches fourth grade at Burgess-Peterson Academy. Pendley is a 2018 Teach On Project (TOP) winner and the 2020 Georgia Teacher of the Year. Wanting to celebrate students not often recognized and increase student self-esteem, she used the TOP award to establish her school’s 4-H Club. Pendley’s most rewarding achievements include 10 years of mentoring new teachers, advocating for students through community partnerships, and witnessing students unlock their limitless potential. Student ownership of learning, forging relationships, and loving one's mistakes are central to her philosophy and just a few of the ways that Pendley brings “magic” to her classroom. Passionate as both teacher and student, Pendley enjoys learning from fellow educators and increasing awareness of both educational equity and teachers’ incredible impact.