Stormi Johnson, a third-grade teacher at the Marietta Center for Advanced Academics, is Marietta’s Teacher of the Year, and Campbell Middle School teacher Rhonda Lokey carries the honor for Cobb this year.
Campbell High School’s marching band led the teachers to their seats in front of the stage in Glover Park, which was surrounded by throngs of students in their school uniforms, who held signs with, “I love you Mrs. Johnson!” and “Lokey’s Lovelies!”
The 8th-grade Spartan Singers of Campbell Middle School sang, as their classmates cheered them on from the audience.
Cobb Superintendent Michael Hinojosa waited for the cheering to die down before he introduced
Lokey, who was in tears as she thanked the audience.
“You inspire me every day to be the best I can be every day I walk into that classroom,” said the 6th-grade humanities teacher who refers to her students as “Lokey’s Lovelies.”
Lokey was interrupted during her speech by former students who shouted, “We love you!” to which she replied, “Love you too!”
Former student Nia Moss, a 7th-grader at Campbell Middle School, had Lokey last year as a teacher.
“Mrs. Lokey is one of the best teachers I have ever had. I have Tourette’s and she really understands me, and helped me get through class. All the things she taught me last year I remember and it helps me this year,” she said.
Adelaide Hudson, a 6th-grader at Campbell Middle School, described how, when Lokey was teaching her class about the exploration age, the class had to get up and walk in a line around the classroom, pretending to be explorers visiting different parts of the world.
“It makes you remember more,” Hudson said.
Marietta Superintendent Emily Lembeck introduced Stormi Johnson.
“I can’t imagine doing anything else,” Johnson said.
The Rocketeers at the Marietta Center for Advanced Academics also performed, and the audience shifted over to the corner of the Square, along Church Street, where students packed the sidewalk, eager to get a glimpse of the handprint unveiling ceremony.
One after the other, the teachers kneeled down and placed their hands over a black cloth, and when the cloth was removed, two handprints were left in the marble walkway.
As soon as the teachers stood up, they were swarmed with current and former students.
Johnson had two children in an embrace as she said, “the ones standing around me are the reason I do what I do.”
Both teachers made time to hug and greet each of the students before they were swept away for a lunch break.
“She loves her students and gives 120 percent every day. She is the hardest working teacher I know, she was at school until 7:30 last night,” said retired Cobb School District teacher Mary Martin who came out to support Lokey, a close friend and former colleague.
Lokey was overwhelmed, and admitted, “I was speechless when they made the announcement, and that never happens.”
The 25th annual event was sponsored by the Cobb Chamber of Commerce.