Georgia Performing Arts Educators Win NFHS Awards

INDIANAPOLIS, IN (January 22, 2024) – A total of 56 individuals have been selected to receive Outstanding Performing Arts Educator Awards from the NFHS, including 22 with Outstanding Music Educator Awards, 21 with Outstanding Speech and Debate Educator Awards, and 13 with Outstanding Theatre Awards. The 22 music honorees include seven section recipients and 15 state recipients. Eight individuals are receiving section awards in speech and debate and 13 will be honored with state awards. In theatre, there are seven section and six state recipients.  Click here to view the NFHS Press Release

Two Georgia coaches were Sectional Winners: Buford's Tim Harris and Georgia Military College's Mark Weaver, while Kimberly Watters of Gordon Central was a state winner.

Outstanding Speech and Debate Educator Awards
Section 3 Winner - Dr. Tim Harris – Harris has left an indelible impact on the lives of countless students through his passion for speech and debate. From his early years, Dr. Harris demonstrated a natural flair for performance and public speaking, setting the stage for a lifelong love of drama and communication. As an educator, his success as a coach in dramatic interpretation and extemporaneous speaking is evident through numerous regional and state championships. Dr. Harris’ unique approach to coaching extemporaneous speaking involves extensive conversations about current events, cultivating a deep understanding of world affairs and fostering impromptu speaking skills among his students. His coaching success is further underscored by the impressive careers of former students who have excelled in fields such as sports broadcasting, law, documentary production, and stand-up comedy. Dr. Harris’ commitment extends beyond the classroom, transitioning from a classroom teacher to an administrator, where he regularly addresses teachers, parent groups, and community stakeholders. Emphasizing interconnectedness, Dr. Harris strives to make others better, creating a positive ripple effect that enriches both his life and the lives of those around him. His dedication to education and public speaking has earned him accolades such as being named Teacher of the Year at both Troup High School and Buford High School, a nine-time STAR Teacher, and receiving the Northeast Georgia Outstanding Educator award twice. Dr. Harris’ influence also stretches to the broader educational community, where he has served as the GHSA Literary Coordinator and played a crucial role in overhauling rules and rubrics for the annual Literary competition. Dr. Harris’ warmth, humor, and inclusive nature make him a joy to work with, as expressed by a colleague who notes that his philosophy as an educator reflects a commitment to mutual growth and improvement. Dr. Harris’ tireless efforts in hosting State Literary and One-Act Play competitions showcase not just his organizational skills but also his passion for the arts. In the words of a colleague, Harris has not only made a positive impact on the GHSA and fine arts in Georgia but has also extended the love of fine arts nationwide through countless students during his illustrious career.


Outstanding Theatre Educator Awards
Section 3 Winner - Mark E. Weaver – Weaver stands as a beacon of inspiration in the realm of theatre education, having dedicated 29 years to nurturing the talents and passions of countless students. Throughout his illustrious career, Weaver's impact is reflected not only in the numerous awards and accolades garnered by his students but also in the transformative experiences he has provided for those facing challenges. Weaver's tenure at Baldwin High School saw his One-Act play and literary teams consistently achieving excellence from 2002 to 2010, with an impressive array of state championships and individual awards. His move to Georgia Military College marked the beginning of an extraordinary period, witnessing 12 consecutive Region Literary Team Championships, 8 consecutive State Literary Team Championships, and 6 State Championships for One-Act Plays. The combined awards for GHSA Literary and One-Act Play over the past decade have rivaled the best in the state. Weaver's humility and passion for education shines through in the numerous awards he has received, including being selected as Teacher of the Year multiple times. His journey from Southside Elementary School to Oconee Valley Alternative School and later to Georgia Military College is marked by commendations for his work with challenging students and contributions to the Fine Arts Center Project. In the words of those who have witnessed his transformative work, Weaver's productions transcend the norm, delighting audiences and providing enriching experiences for students. His inclusive approach ensures that each student finds a place to contribute and participate, fostering a love for the arts. In the state of Georgia, Weaver's legacy is one of unwavering passion, dedication, and constant improvement in theatre education.

Outstanding Music Educator Awards
Georgia, Gordon Central High School - Dr. Kimberly Watters Dr. Kimberly Watters has dedicated an extensive 36-year teaching career to the Gordon County School System in Georgia. Throughout her tenure, she has directed over 100 musicals, led numerous concerts, and achieved recognition both locally and nationally for her contributions to music education. Watters has been actively involved in various music and arts associations and influenced thousands of students in the state of Georgia.


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