Today, Dr. Elizabeth Goff knelt on the sidewalk of Marietta Square surrounded by a crowd of paparazzi, her students cheering in the background. The Bells Ferry Elementary School teacher then pulled back the blue cloth to unveil her handprints, forever cemented in the history of Cobb County as the 2023 Cobb County School District Teacher of the Year.
Just beyond her handprints on the Teacher Walk of Honor, there’s a bench overlooking the square, the bench where Dr. Goff’s husband proposed marriage over 25 years ago.
“This is a very special place for us. Our family is here all the time, and my husband and I were engaged here. It's just like a full circle moment. Thank you for this beautiful moment that I will remember forever,” gushed Dr. Goff as she discussed the magnitude of being honored by the very Cobb community she has loved for decades.
The annual handprint ceremony is part of the Cobb Chamber’s 34th year of Give Our Schools a Hand celebrations that honor teachers from Cobb Schools and Marietta City Schools. Before the handprint unveiling the Teachers of the Year were honored inside the Earl and Rachel Smith Strand Theatre. The Bells Ferry chorus helped serenade their teacher, who has served Cobb students for decades.
A serendipitous meeting with a Cobb educator at Disney World first brought Dr. Goff to Cobb Schools where she began her teaching career in 1996. Dr. Goff now teaches English to Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) at Bells Ferry Elementary School where students have 29 different native languages.
She brought her love of service to Cobb.
“I love giving,” the veteran educator said simply.
It’s that love of giving and service that keeps her in the classroom. Dr. Goff was inspired to teach by her own teachers who dedicated their lives to students, like her. Some of her former students are already teachers, but more may follow.
After Dr. Goff’s handprints were unveiled on the square, some of her own students knelt on the sidewalk and put their hands in their teacher’s cemented handprints. When she is first getting to know her new students, she often asks them questions about what they want to do when they grow up.
“They have all kinds of ideas. I support all of those. Occasionally, I will have students that somewhere along the line start changing that idea and they'll tell you, ‘I would love to be a teacher. I want to be just like you,” Dr. Goff revealed. “It is the greatest compliment. It's a wonderful feeling. I feel so much pride.”
Dr. Goff may be inspiring to her students, but they inspire her in return.
“My students bring strength and determination. They bring love for their school, their teachers, and for learning. They help shape me. Thank you to my students,” said the Cobb Schools Teacher of the Year.
Dr. Goff loves walking into Bells Ferry every morning and being greeted by so many smiling faces. The students greet her with a hug and excitement about their latest story. It’s those daily moments that make her love her job.
“I look forward to seeing them every day. They are ready to see me every day. They're ready to learn every day. They are ready to work. So, it's a pleasure to go to work every morning. I'm very excited about it,” Dr. Goff explained. “I love my students.”
Later this month, the annual Teacher of the Year pep rally will honor all Cobb County Teachers of the Year at Wheeler High School.