Passion for art earns Cole ‘Teacher of the Year’

Published 3:37 pm Tuesday, September 20, 2016


Rebecca Long Cole had one goal when she returned home to serve as the Bainbridge High School art teacher after teaching in South Carolina for nine years. She wanted to revitalize the art program that had in part inspired her to become a teacher.

The school’s art club, which had close to 50 members when she was the student president, had only five members when she returned as the teacher.

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“I wanted to make a difference,“ Cole said. “I have poured everything into it. It was my mission to revitalize the program for the better. It just needed a rebirth.”

Three years later she has accomplished that goal and then some. The high school art classes don’t have enough seats to meet the demand. The art club now has close to 50 members once again and they just started a second club specifically for girls interested in the science, technology, engineering, art and math.

Last week, Cole was honored for all her hard work when she was named Decatur County Teacher of the Year after previously being named Bainbridge High School Teacher of the Year.

“I was in complete shock,” Cole said. “I just felt so much pride in all the stuff that I had done.”
To BHS principal Tommie Howell, it is Cole’s impact on her students and the community that made her the choice for Teacher of the Year.

“She is so energetic and her love of art is just contagious,” Howell said. “The students just flock to her. They get connected with her and they get involved in art.”

Cole and the art club partnered with the city to paint the fire hydrants around Willis Park and they are currently working on a float for the homecoming parade. Her impact as a teacher goes beyond just helping her students become better artist though.

“She’s a really good teacher,” eleventh grader Maleigha Hall, who is a member of the art club and in the painting class, said. “She’s one of those teachers you can come to if you need someone to talk to. She makes you feel safe.”

Cole will now compete in the state Teacher of the Year contest.

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