2014 Teacher Winner
School: Springdale Park Elementary School—Atlanta Public Schools
Elizabeth Emerson currently is a 1st-grade teacher at Springdale Park and has been there for 5 years. She adores everything about teaching … the strong community among educators, students, parents, policy-makers, and stakeholders; watching students flourish amid high expectations; evaluating, planning, and implementing curriculum; and above all else, witnessing the gift of learning each day. She happily has been teaching for 12 years. She wasn’t always an educator, though. Ms. Emerson grew up wanting to work in the business world. After graduating from Georgia State University in 1997 with a BBA and a 4.0 GPA she moved back to Minnesota to attend law school at William Mitchell, planning to become a corporate attorney. She loved law school, participated in moot court and the law review, and graduated 4th in her class. Even then, however, she was passionate about education. Following her passion, she wrote a piece about education law that was published in the law review in 2000. She practiced law for 2 years, but she felt a professional void. After taking some exploratory education courses, Ms. Emerson applied to and was accepted into Teach for America, where she discovered her true calling.