Melissa Hankinson and Cara Reese

Atlanta Girls’ School (AGS) is celebrating Humanities teacher, Cara Reese, and science teacher, Melissa Hankinson, for being named by the Georgia Independent School Association (GISA) as Teachers of the Year. They were named Middle School Teacher of the Year and Upper School Teacher of the Year, respectively.

Reese and Hankinson were chosen for this honor amongst nominees from 172 independent schools throughout the State of Georgia.

“To have not just one, but two, Atlanta Girls’ School educators recognized by GISA as Teachers of the Year is truly incredible,” said Kimbrell Smith, Head of School at Atlanta Girls’ School. “This honor is not only a testament to Cara’s and Melissa’s dedication and commitment to inspiring and empowering girls and young women to find their purpose, but it also demonstrates just how committed the entire AGS faculty is to our students.” 

Reese has worked as an educator for the past 20 years and is currently in her third year at AGS as a seventh grade humanities teacher. Reese incorporates project-based learning, constructivist education, social studies curriculum development, and integrated studies into her classroom curriculum.

“Being a teacher encompasses so many different roles, and I believe that all of them are foundational to the betterment of society and culture,” said Reese. “By helping students develop curiosity, critical thinking, confidence, creative expression and kindness, in a small way each teacher is ensuring that the next generation has an abundance of leaders and visionaries.” 

Hankinson, has been an member of the AGS faculty since 2011, her work empowers young women in science, technology, engineering, math (STEM) and environmental fields.

“I work really hard to ensure what I’m teaching is relevant and relatable to my students in hopes of sparking an interest in STEM that they may never have had before,” said Hankinson. “It’s incredibly meaningful when my students (and their parents) tell me how I have inspired them to pursue a STEM career because of the joy, curiosity, and confidence I helped them cultivate.”  

Both Hankinson and Reese carry their passion for education beyond the classroom. This past year, the two co-chaperoned an educational trip for students to visit and explore Panama as part of AGS’s global travel program.

Hankinson is an advocate of outdoor education, often leading students to settings where they can learn about and explore nature. Along with her role as humanities teacher, Reese also serves as the school’s Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging (DEIB) Coordinator of Student Life, working alongside students and administrators to support leadership development among students who lead affinity groups and belonging initiatives.

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