In 2013, Dr. Jemelleh Coes was nominated to represent Bulloch County as Teacher of the Year. She went on to become Georgia’s 2014 Teacher of the Year. She spent six years teaching English/language arts and math in both the general and special education setting at Langston Chapel Middle School in Statesboro, Georgia.
Jemelleh is the daughter of immigrant parents and a first-generation university graduate. She was born in Brooklyn, New York, and raised in Decatur, Georgia. She received her Bachelor’s degree in Education with a concentration in Special Education and her Master’s degree in Education with a concentration in Teaching and Learning from Georgia Southern University. During her tenure at Georgia Southern University, she traveled nationally and internationally to collect data from various educational systems in order to find ways to make improvements and validate the successes of our local systems. Her travel continues today, although temporarily hauled by COVID.
Jemelleh earned her Ph.D. in Educational Theory and Practice with certificates in Education Law and Policy, Disability Studies, and Qualitative Research from the University of Georgia. She serves as a board member for the National Network of State Teachers of the Year and advisory councilperson for the Georgia Partnership of Excellence in Education. She listens with keen attention and endeavors to find the gaps in equity that exist throughout education.
She is the Director of Teacher Leadership at Mount Holyoke College where she leads the program, develops curriculum, and provides professional development opportunities for teacher leaders. She is also a professor at the University of Georgia where she teaches future educators along with future professionals dedicated to disability advocacy. She also serves as a teacher mentor for classroom teachers throughout the state. In this capacity, she supports teachers with career development and special projects. Her work is about helping other educators grow. Through this, she is thankful to be able to learn from some of the most exciting and uniquely innovative educators in the country!
Her work has a laser focus on equity and disrupting traditional ways of engaging in education. She believes that equity is the thread that runs through everything!
Jemelleh says, “In the sweater of life, if you remove the equity thread, you can guarantee indecent exposure.”