Cobb Schools Recognize 11 Teachers for Commitment to STEM Education

Acworth Elementary School students who were eager to dig deeper into science, technology, engineering, and math had the opportunity to extend their learning past the school week. The students were able to participate in real-world challenges in the school’s “STEM Academy Saturdays,” and it was all thanks to STEM Lab Teacher, Courtney Payne.

Third-grade teacher, Dyanna Motes, partnered with Georgia Power to introduce her Kemp Elementary School students to a STEM lesson on heat energy.

Payne and Motes are two of the teachers who recently earned a Cobb STEM Distinguished Educator Award. In total, there were eleven Cobb teachers from across the district who won the STEM honor this year.

“This program is designed to recognize exceptional K-12 teachers in our district who have made a commitment to meaningfully implementing STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) in their classroom,” said Tania Pachuta, STEM Professional Learning Specialist for the district.

The top Cobb STEM Distinguished Educator Award went to Kimberly McCreary of Pickett’s Mill Elementary School. McCreary, who teaches first grade, launched STEM clubs at two different schools and regularly incorporates STEM instruction into her lessons. She has also earned a Science Endorsement and participated in the district-led STEM Innovation Academy.

“Working for this award has allowed me to renew my commitment to staying current with STEM practices and involved in STEM initiatives in my classroom and school. Most importantly, it has provided numerous opportunities for my students to be exposed to the world of STEM!” said McCreary.

Award winners receive various prizes with the top winner—Kimberly McCreary—earning a Sphero robot for use in her classroom, along with a trip to a Georgia educator conference of her choice. NexAir, LLC, a leading distributor of atmospheric gases and welding supplies with locations across the mid-south, sponsored the educator awards.

Teachers apply for the Cobb STEM Distinguished Educator Award by submitting a portfolio of evidence documenting the various STEM experiences they have engaged in and have provided for their students throughout the year. The program was modeled after the Georgia Department of Education STEM Educator Laureate Program.

2019 Cobb Distinguished Educators:

Kimberly McCreary Pickett’s Mill Elementary Top Winner
Heather Bell Barber Middle School Gold Level
Courtney Payne Acworth Elementary School Gold Level
Ann Baxley Walton High School Gold Level
Stacy Melton Frey Elementary School Gold Level
Maggie Gudgel Frey Elementary School Silver Level
Lauren Ross Frey Elementary School Silver Level
Kimberly Sanders Frey Elementary School Silver Level
Sonya Bullock Bells Ferry Elementary School Bronze Level
Dyanna Motes Kemp Elementary School Bronze Level
Emilie Rose Simpson Middle School Bronze Level

More information about the program, past winners, and how Cobb Schools supports students through STEM education can be found at


Dr. Sally Creel, Supervisor
STEM and Innovative Practice

Contributing Author: Tania Pachuta, STEM and Innovative Practice and Nan Kiel, CCSD Communications

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