Georgia United Credit Union & Star94 Announce Third “Teachers Make a Difference” Award Winner – Joy Hurd of Coralwood School in DeKalb County

Duluth, GA  (October 15, 2012) During August and September, Georgia United Credit Union teamed up with Star94 Radio to ask parents and students to tell us about an outstanding teacher who made a difference in their lives. Thanks to every individual who took the time to honor a special teacher, by nominating them for our first annual “Teachers Make a Difference” Awards.

Any full-time teacher at an accredited public or private school in the state of Georgia was eligible, as long as they were still teaching.  Applications were taken online through Georgia United and Star94’s websites and over 600 entries (of 500 words or less) were received by the September 21 deadline.

From all the amazing entries, one winner per week has been selected, for four weeks, each winning receiving a $500 cash prize and a $250 prize for their school. From these four winners, we will select one Grand Prize winner, who will receive a $2,000 scholarship towards his/her Continuing Education studies. Additionally, weekly winners are being recognized with an award and lunch for the entire school staff at a recognition ceremony at their school.

We are excited to announce our third weekly winner is Joy Hurd, Special Education Teacher at Coralwood Center in DeKalb County.
  When asked what she loves about teaching, she said, “My favorite part of teaching is watching children show independence.  My happiest moments are when I see their smiles of discovery when, after much repetition, they slide their fingers across Braille, use sign language, activate switches or exchange pictures for desired items.”

Here is a partial excerpt from parent Martha Hummer’s nomination

Sending any young child to school is difficult for most parents.  It isn’t always easy to trust strangers with your child.  However, it becomes even more difficult when your child has special needs.  My son Eli is blind and nonverbal.  He can’t tell me what is happening at school and he doesn’t see what is happening around him either.  Eli has had the pleasure of having Ms. Joy for the past two years.  When he was first placed in her class, she began to learn how to Braille his work and everything in the classroom.  She thinks of wonderful ways to include him in the classroom, like putting oatmeal in paint so he can feel it.  She calls me on the weekend with questions or ideas about lessons for Eli.  She allows me to call her anytime with questions.  Eli was extremely sick for an entire month, and Ms. Joy came by our house to visit because she was so concerned for him.  She defends him when necessary and makes sure that he spends time with typical children. She celebrates his successes, no matter how great or small, with us.  He has grown so much in the past two years because of her love, care, and instruction.  I am so happy that he has her again this year.  Ms. Joy is a DeKalb County teacher and has taken another sharp pay cut this year (third year in a row).  She chose to stay in the county because of her love for her students and the school.  She deserves this award more than any other teacher I know.  She is THE BEST!

Joy’s Story
: My entire education and career have taken place in Georgia.  I started my college career at Georgia State University. I majored in Nursing, but also took a few education classes. After two years, I transferred to Brenau University.  I double majored in both nursing and special education there, but was so drawn to the uniqueness of children with special needs that, in the end, I graduated from Brenau University with a B.S., Special Education in 1995.

I have taught in special education in DeKalb County for 16 years, beginning at Rockbridge Elementary in Stone Mountain, where Hal Beaver was Principal. (Mr. Beaver had been my own principal when I was a student at W.C. Britt in Snellville.)  At Rockbridge, I taught students of various intellectual disabilities, grades K-6. My students there who were on the Autism spectrum  inspired me to continue my education, so I enrolled in a Masters program at The University of West Georgia.  When I learned of a new program beginning at Piedmont College, I transferred there and, in May of 2001, I received an M.A. in Special Education with an emphasis on Emotional/Behavioral Disorders and Autism.

Presently, I teach in a self-contained classroom at the Coralwood School in Decatur.  Part of the DeKalb County Department of Education, Coralwood offers an inclusion-based program, where students with special needs learn in the same classroom as their typically developing peers, ages 3-7.

My students continue to inspire me improve myself as a teacher.  I am currently taking a sign language class at the Atlanta Area School for the Deaf in Clarkston in order to more successfully teach a deaf student in my classroom. With three students in my classroom who are blind, I have been attending annual conferences at the Georgia Academy for the Blind to learn more about visual impairments and severe cognitive delays, and I am considering getting my certification as Teacher of Students with Visual Impairments.

Congratulations to Joy Hurd at Coralwood School for being our third weekly award recipient. Is your favorite teacher our last remaining finalist? Listen to Star94 or visit every Monday in October to learn who our other winner will be!

Thank you to your locally owned Domino’s Pizza for providing lunch for all of the teachers at the winning schools!

About Georgia United Credit Union

Georgia United Credit Union is considered the largest educators’ credit union in the state. Ranked as one of the top credit unions in Georgia in both size and safety, their top priority is to save members time and money.  Georgia United Credit Union is federally insured by the National Credit Union Share Insurance Fund (NCUSIF) up to $250,000 per account.

Georgia United Credit Union serves all State Agency employees, all county government employees, Board of Regents Colleges and Universities, adult & technical education schools, employees of over 450 companies and 11 county school systems.  Additional information may be located at or at our media center.

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