TOTY Spotlight: Gabriella Benton

Throughout the month of October, we will be introducing you to the 2022-2023 Glynn County Teachers of the Year.
Gabriella "Gabbi" Benton was named the Teacher of the Year for Sterling Elementary and recently learned that she is one of five finalists in the running for the Glynn County Teacher of the Year. Here are some awesome things you should know.
Courses/grades taught: After graduating from University of Georgia and returning home to teach, I have been teaching first grade at Sterling Elementary. This is my fifth-year teaching first grade. 

Family: I am the daughter of Tinker Benton, graduate of Brunswick High School, and Lynda Grovola. I have two brothers, Ryan (31) and Dustin (19), who both graduated from Glynn County Schools. I have two sweet dogs, Grace and Duppi, who are definitely considered family. My Nana is a very special family member. She is my best friend, inspiration, and helping hand. She has devoted many hours to making sure my classroom is just right!

Who is your role model? Why? What a tough question! So many people inspire me daily. I would say that my role model is my nana. She loves the Lord with all of her heart and spreads contagious love wherever she goes. She has helped shape me into the woman I am today. She is always willing to help others and go above and beyond to care and love others. It is because of her that I have developed my philosophy of teaching around the motto, “Love First, Teach Second.”

What book has most influenced you? The book that has influenced me most is "How Full Is Your Bucket? For Kids" by Mary Reckmeyer and Tom Rath. This book helps teach kindness and lifting others up. I read this to my class in the first week of school each year. It helps us to see that we all have an imaginary bucket. When we do kind things, we fill up others’ buckets and our own, but when we make poor choices, we dip into others’ buckets. This book is a solid reminder for myself to always be aware of how you are treating others. We talk about bucket filling and bucket dipping throughout the year in my classroom. 

What is your greatest teaching memory? My greatest teaching memory was our Flat Stanley Informative Writing Project. My students illustrated Flat Stanley characters. On a trip to New York City, I photographed the Flat Stanley characters throughout the city at landmarks, restaurants, and on various forms of transportation. I also collected evidence (brochures, ticket stubs, menus, postcards, etc.) to assist with their research. When I returned, students got to find out where their Flat Stanley visited and use the materials to construct an informative writing piece. We later put all of the writings together to create a book. The students LOVED this project. It got them excited about writing and let them virtually visit a city they’ve never been to. 

What is your favorite quote or personal motto? My personal motto is “Love First, Teach Second.” I feel that relationships are one of the most important things in a school. In order to teach a child, I feel that I must be able to reach that child with a relationship. I want every student that enters my room to know that they are loved and cared for. My goal is to help my students experience this love and learn how to share that love with their classmates, families, and friends. 

What is a fact about you that most people don't know? I graduated from Brunswick High School in 2013 as valedictorian and most school spirited. My school spirit has continued with my love for the Georgia Bulldogs. I have been to ALMOST every Georgia home and away game for eight seasons. 

Any hidden talents or hobbies? I have picked up a love for running. This past March, I was met with a fundraising opportunity for Relay For Life. I was challenged to run 100 miles in the month of March, after not having been an avid runner since high school. I exceeded the 100-mile goal and raised over $1,500 for Relay For Life. This sparked a new love for running!