Norcross High School, World History teacher, Jay Nebel is a 17 year veteran teacher with a love of education that reflects a solid foundation laid by his parents. As the oldest child of six, Nebel enjoyed tutoring his five younger siblings. Education was a passion that Nebel never out grew and today Jay Nebel is celebrated as the 2012 Gwinnett County Teacher of the Year.
The annual Teacher of the Year banquet was held Thursday, Nov 1 at the Gwinnett Center in Duluth. Superintendent Alvin Wilbanks recognized 131 of the district’s top educators of their respective schools. Jay Nebel was named the 2013 Gwinnett County High School Teacher of the Year and he was selected as Gwinnett’s top teacher from a group of six finalists district wide.
Jay Nebel credits his mom and dad with teaching him everything he knows today about teaching and he makes it a practice to demonstrate what he says is his guide to teaching success. Nebel says his dad was funny, fair, steady, and knowledgeable. His mom was a talented writer with a love for words. They also were patient but firm, with high expectations for him. One of those expectations was for him to guide and help the other five children. He has fond memories of his interactions with his siblings, saying, “Often, I helped with their homework and organization, and I found myself enamored with my role. When I helped my younger brothers and sisters, I wanted to be funny and fair like my dad and as gifted a writer as my mom. Now, when I teach, I always hope that I’m making the kind of impact on my students that my mom and dad made on me.”
Nebel says he has watched his students graduate and have been told by many of them and their parents that they couldn’t have done it without him. He says, “Whatever the impact I had on these kids, that is my greatest accomplishment as a teacher. Many of my kids experience a reality that is far different from mine and is swayed too often by the wrong influences. Therefore, I incorporate life lessons into my teaching. I want to help produce effective citizens; young people need to see the behaviors that create success in the world beyond the one they know now.” Nebel says that every day, in every class period, with every student, he models the characteristics that have helped him. He says, “I don’t allow ‘teachable moments’ to escape; as a teacher, I am responsible for the whole child.”
Gwinnett County’s Teacher of the Year selection process begins when thousands of teachers from throughout the district are nominated and named one of the 131 local school Teachers of the Year. A selection committee later narrowed down the group to 26 semifinalists, and finally to the six finalists. During classroom visits, the committee members will look for original teaching methods, study the teacher’s teaching philosophy, review special class projects the teacher has initiated, and consider the influence the teacher has had on the teaching practices of his/her colleagues. They also will review each teacher’s educational degrees and civic activities.
Nebel is the co-creator/co-sponsor of Norcross High’s STARS (Success Through Academic Rigor and Support) Program, which targets rising 9th graders. He is also the associate head coach for the Norcross High women’s basketball team. Jay Nebel was the 1996 Teacher of the Year at Creekland Middle.
Erica Leach of Walnut Grove Elementary was named the system’s 2013 Elementary School Teacher of the Year and Heidi Mikulecky of Richards Middle took the 2013 Middle School Teacher of the Year.