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Spotlight Stories

Meet Kayla Hughes: First Grade Teacher

In every aspect of her life, Mrs. Hughes strives for brilliance. Originally from Illinois, it was her gymnastic skills that landed her on a spot in one of the nation's top collegiate programs, ultimately winning multiple titles, including the Honda Award, which is essentially the Heisman of gymnastics. Educationally, she holds an advanced degree in early childhood education and a bachelor's in early childhood development. 

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Meet Crystal Downes: High School Dean of Students and Learning Advocate

"In Academic Support, we help students define what success looks like for them. While letter and number grades have their place, they are not the sole measure of success. Success relies on the mindset of growth, the process of pushing forward in the presence of challenge. Learning is a journey and the routes to the destination of success look different for each student."

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Meet Aaron Jongko: Fifth Grade Teacher

Aaron Jongko has always challenged himself as a teacher: “how do I make learning happen and keep students fully engaged while they’re having fun?” Over the 10 years he’s been teaching, he thinks he’s found the secret sauce. “I’ve tried to always keep kids at ease because it makes learning happen more naturally.” Aaron has found this to be especially important given the project-based learning approach he uses for social studies.

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Meet Dr. Laura Markert: Middle School Math Teacher

She molds her instruction so that her students “own” the knowledge. They learn their own way of solving problems, and it’s not just the teacher passing down the step-by-step instructions. “I love math because it’s like a puzzle. There is more than one way to solve the problem. I want the kids to know that I want to hear about their way of tackling a problem. It’s not just about how I do it.”

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Meet Michael Washington: High School Math Teacher

During a typical school day, Michael Washington switches between teaching AP Calculus BC, Algebra, Precalculus, and Geometry. It’s very different from what he was doing right out of college. Conducting RTL simulations and programming field-programmable gate arrays have been replaced by grading papers and taking students on a learning odyssey through the intricacies of an often challenging subject.

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Meet Denise Martin: Pre-1st Teacher

Teachers inspire students every day, it’s in their nature and embedded in their work; but for Denise Martin, she is re-inspired by her classes each year. A teaching veteran of 10 years, with a Masters in Early Childhood Education from Oglethorpe University, there’s no wonder why she received Teacher of the Year for the Lower School. Her passion to advocate for her students is palpable.

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Meet Lisa Chase: Nasmyth Environmental Center Teacher

GAC’s Nasmyth Environmental Center is more than just a lush outdoor space filled with banana trees, chickens, and garden beds. It’s a real working educational space with a thoughtful, rich curriculum and two expert, full-time teachers. No desks, notebooks, or pens—the artifacts of a traditional classroom—but hardworking teachers crafting a rigorous outdoor curriculum. 

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Meet Mario Lozano: Graphic Designer & Girls Soccer Coach

Mario Lozano has a long history with the GAC community. Growing up in the City of Children orphanage in Mexico, Mario developed deep friendships with the many GAC mission teams that visited the orphanage. When you walk across the campus with Mario, you immediately discover that everyone knows his name. His willing spirit and selfless attitude make GAC better each day.

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Meet Lori Davis: High School Counselor

This year, GAC graduated 186 students that Lori and her team worked with intensely over the previous four years. The time the counselors invest to make sure that each student is successful is astonishing. And the results are telling: 100% of students were admitted to a 4-year college. Students in the class of 2018 were accepted to 183 different universities, with 67 matriculations, and earned nearly $18 million in scholarships.

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Meet Mary Lynn Huett: High School Chemistry Teacher

The start of every school year isn’t anything like the courtroom scene Mary Lynn Huett had mastered after law school, or even the legal services department she ran later on for a national trade association.  No, it’s usually a jury of 20 restless high school teenagers who have signed up for her honors chemistry or AP chemistry course. This is the kind of jury she loves most. 

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Meet Dr. Paul Cable: High School Bible & Latin Teacher

It’s rare to meet a teacher qualified to teach as many subjects as Dr. Paul Cable. With a Bachelor of Arts in English Language and Literature from the University of Georgia, a Masters of Divinity in Biblical Languages from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, and a Ph.D. in New Testament from Wheaton College, Paul could easily fill the role of three teachers at GAC. So of all subjects why choose languages?

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