Star94 & Georgia United Credit Union Name Audrey Hughes of Clarke County as “Teachers Make a Difference” Grand Prize Winner & Heather MacKenzie Thompson of Henry County as Star Choice Winner

ATHENS, GA  (May 10, 2013) Congratulations to Audrey Hughes, 6-8th grade science teacher at Hilsman Middle School in Athens (Clarke County), chosen as one of Georgia United Credit Union & Star94 Radio’s Top Five “Teachers Make a Difference” Award Winners.  During her award luncheon today, Audrey was also announced as the GRAND PRIZE recipient of this year’s recognition program.   As part of Georgia United and Star94’s commitment to stronger schools and stronger communities, this was the second year that this educational credit union and metro Atlanta radio station teamed up – to reward teachers who make a difference in the lives of students and their parents.

We asked for your nominations and the response has been overwhelming. More than 400 individuals across the state wrote to us about a teacher who has made a difference in your life. The week of May 6-10, we honored one of the Top Five teachers each day with a reception and lunch at their school (thanks to our friends at Jimmy John’s). Each of these Top Five teachers received a $500 cash prize and a $250 prize for their school, and one Grand Prize winner was awarded a $2,000 scholarship towards his/her Continuing Education studies. Congratulations to Audrey Hughes who was selected as this year’s top teacher from a very qualified group of finalists!

Parent Kristina Schultz Tanner had this to say about Mrs. Hughes: “When guided by an excellent teacher, enthusiasm towards education itself can be contagious! My daughter has had the unique opportunity to be a student of Mrs. Audrey Hughes, who motivates her students to explore science on a practical level, especially with her after-school Science and Energy Team work. In a mere matter of months, she has transformed a handful of students into an energized organization that is actively working to educate others about recycling and energy conservation as they themselves learn through trips to the ACC Recycling Center, joining Terracycle and spearheading a school wide recycling campaign, and even seeing a local farm and learning how food is produced and distributed to grocery stores. The “Trash Hunger” campaign uses recycled items to raise money for food banks, and the “Teens for Jeans” collected 838 pairs of used jeans for donation to homeless shelters! She and her students met with Athens Mayor Nancy Denson to ask for official recognition of Energy Education Week (March 3-9), during which these middle school students will be formally educating their peers and local elementary school students about energy and resource conservation. Mrs. Hughes has gone above and beyond her classroom, bringing students into the community and teaching them to be leaders themselves as they bring their lessons to life. Education ultimately shapes our youth into adults who become productive members of our society. Mrs. Hughes has taught our children not only how we impact our environment, but how we can impact our own communities and the lives of others by reaching out to those less fortunate. This creates the kind of person who can not only succeed, but help others reach a higher potential. If all teachers had the kind of enthusiasm and passion for education as Audrey Hughes, classrooms would become launching pads for kids who would enter the world confident and empowered, and our community would benefit from these citizens set on using what they have to improve the lives of all.”


CONGRATULATIONS to all of our TOP FIVE Outstanding Teachers:

  • Chris Cummo, 7th grade science, Liberty Middle School, Cumming, Forsyth County
  • Georgianna Hendrickson, Kindergarten, Vanderlyn School, DeKalb County
  • Dr. Chuck Garner, Pre-Calculus, Rockdale Magnet School for Science & Technology, Conyers, Rockdale County
  • Lisa Smith, Business Education, Sonoraville High School, Calhoun, Gordon County
  • Audrey Hughes, 6th-8th science, Hilsman Middle School, Athens, Clarke County (Grand Prize Winner)

To view all winners’ complete biographies, visit

Kudos also go to Heather MacKenzie Thompson, 8th grade Language Arts Teacher at Eagles Landing Middle School who was named as our STAR CHOICE Award Winner from 10 Outstanding Runners-up:  There were so many amazing teachers nominated this year, Georgia United opened up online voting to the public to help select their favorite “STAR CHOICE” Award winner from 10 excellent candidates.  Over 10,748 votes we cast and that winner will receive $500 cash and an ice cream party for their class. The remaining nine candidates will receive “Teachers Make a Difference” gift bags and VISA gift cards before school is out:

  • Debra Bryan, 7th grade,  Davis Middle School, Conyers, Rockdale County
    • Kimberly Campbell, 1st grade, Arnold Mill School, Woodstock, Cherokee County
    • Kevin Cown, 8th grade Language Arts, Autry Mill Middle School, Johns Creek – Fulton County
    • Roy George, Electrical Engineering, Wheeler High School, Marietta – Cobb County
    • O.J. Hall, 11th grade American History, East Laurens High School, Dexter – Laurens County
    • Avis Holbrook, 2nd grade, Dunwoody Elementary School, Dunwoody – DeKalb County
    • Dr. Robert Lawrence, Director of Bands, Clarke Central High School, Athens – Clarke County
    • Heather MacKenzie, 8th grade Language Arts, Eagles Landing Middle School – Henry County
    • Klare McKee, Discovery (gifted) 1st-5th grades, Dunwoody Elementary School – DeKalb County
    • Tracy Mooney, Career Tech, North Forsyth High School, Cumming – Forsyth County

About Georgia United Credit Union
Georgia United Credit Union is ranked as one of the top credit unions in Georgia in both size and safety. Their mission is to save members time and money on their financial services. 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 including UGA, adult & technical education schools, employees of over 450 companies and 11 county school systems.  Two of Georgia United’s 16 branch locations are in Athens. Additional information may be located at or at our media center.

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