Riverside Middle School teacher Christy Van Meter was named Columbia County Teacher of the Year during a Thursday banquet at the West Lake Country Club.
A 16-year veteran teacher, Van Meter said her success only was possible due to those she works with.
"Teacher collaboration has a lot to do with why I'm here," she said following the announcement. "We work so well together, sharing ideas and encouraging others. I wouldn't be the teacher I am were it not for the teachers I work with."
The sixth-grade language arts and social studies teacher was one of five finalists.
Also considered for the award were Shannon Brown, a sixth-grade language arts teacher at Greenbrier Middle School; Gloria Cruse, a second-grade teacher at Bel Air Elementary; Lara Reeves, a second-grade teacher at River Ridge Elementary; and, Ginger Sutton, a language and social studies teacher at Stallings Island Middle School.
School officials also recognized the system's Media Specialist of the Year Trina Galvin, of Euchee Creek Elementary School.
Galvin won a Hewlett-Packard Notebook laptop computer and a subscription to the Symphony Orchestra Augusta's Pops at the Bell series. All school-level winners for Teacher of the Year won $150 and finalists received $300 and an iPad. As system Teacher of the Year, Van Meter won $500, symphony tickets, and a year-long lease of a 2011 Mercedes-Benz C250.
Van Meter now is in the running to become Georgia Teacher of the Year. Since 1999, seven Columbia County teachers of the year have been chosen as finalists for that award, including last year's county winner Vicki Tarleton of Grovetown High School.
Ten finalists for state Teacher of the Year will be announced in February.