Teacher of the Year, Woman of the Century


Photo By Andrea Martin

Mrs. Austin loves each of her students for who they are, regardless of their past or where they come from; she will always treat any and every individual she encounters with every ounce of her love and respect.

A roar of laughter rings throughout the halls of North Forsyth High School, reverberating from the classroom of Mrs. Austin.  The atmosphere inside the classroom is incredibly buoyant, as if a negative emotion has never dared to enter. Students focus their full attention upon the instructor brimming with just as much joy and curiosity as her students. The seconds fly by as Mrs. Austin marches her students, 10th grade Honors literature students and 12th grade AP Literature and Composition students, into the depths and discoveries of literature. This is no ordinary classroom: this is Mrs. Austin’s room, the residence of the newly announced North Forsyth Teacher of the Year (TOTY for short).

It is easy to understand why Mrs. Austin is such a successful instructor. Her wit and humor pave the way for an exciting lesson in literature for her students during each class she teaches. Mrs. Phipps, one of North Forsyth’s administrators, has worked with Mrs. Austin for 11 years and understands what makes Mrs. Austin North Forsyth’s TOTY.

“Mrs. Austin is a brilliant teacher who possesses this immaculate ability to connect with all people. I came here in the fall of 2002 as an English teacher, and immediately Mrs. Austin made me feel right at home; since day one she has been there for me. She was incredibly welcoming and truly made me feel like North Forsyth was the place for me,” Phipps said. “I think North needs to know that she is not just an AP teacher; she is so much more. She has helped a multitude of students recover credits, whether they are in remedial classes, AP, or college classes. Mrs. Austin truly is the whole package. There is a saying we use around here you know, and that saying is “she will love you through any problem.”

So where did this love, not only her students but also for her job as a teacher, come from? Mrs. Austin has one overwhelmingly influence that pushed her to pursue this lifestyle that has become so notary.

“My father had to work for food when he was younger in the fields. He may have stopped his education a bit early, but he was a voracious reader and most certainly a huge and impactful influence on me. My mother read fiction and graduated high school, she became a teacher, and we would always talk about major events at the dinner table rather than town gossip. Education was of the upmost importance to the both of them, and, in turn, I loved school and I loved learning.”

Mrs. Austin believes that in order to become an extraordinary teacher, one must have an acceptable amount of content knowledge. This type of teacher must harbor an immense love of the occupation to truly teach at an extraordinary, because it is both an art and a science. It takes patience, creativity, ingenuity, and calculated and precise execution of organization and instruction methods.  To Mrs. Austin, connecting with her students and becoming the incredible educator she is today came with age and experience.

“This is my twentieth year at North,” Austin explained. “I’ve taught remedial, on-level, honors, and AP students, and after teaching for so long you really do acquire almost a sort of mastery in what you do. There is no part of teaching that I love in particular. I love every aspect because I absolutely love what I do. Every individual part of my experience as a teacher has been undoubtedly amazing.”

Mrs. Austin loves each of her students for who they are–regardless of their past or where they come from. She treats every individual she encounters with love and respect. There is a reason Mrs. Austin won this title, but it is not just because she is just an exceptional instructor, but it is also because of her exceptional character.

“I believe in always being honest, with love though.” Austin said. “I believe that all people are created by God, so they have innate value. No individual is above another, no matter where they come from or who they are, God created as equals. I believe that once an individual realizes and accepts this, they won’t be able to feel unnecessary hatred, and they will be able to find the good in those who have done wrong, even if the wrong was extreme.”

This is not the first time Mrs. Austin has received this award. In 2004, Mrs. Austin was named Teach of the Year for the first time in her career not only won this award. This proves how exceptional of an educator Mrs. Austin has proved to be throughout her time at North Forsyth.