Three Preparatory School Alumni Return as Teachers

A new school year has begun for GMC Preparatory School and with that comes the excitement and energy of another year of learning and growth for our students. We have the privilege this year to highlight three young teachers on staff who learned about the power of a GMC education firsthand, as they are all GMC Prep Alumni themselves.

As Preparatory School cadets, Sara Gray (left, Prep 2010, JC 2011),  Andrea Sammons (formerly Sowell) (middle, Prep 2010, JC 2011), and Vanna Stone (right, Prep 2014), all had unique GMC experiences. They each had their own favorite teachers and subjects, different passions, and a wide variety of interests outside of school. Vanna served as company commander her senior year, was on Honor Council, and participated in the spring musical her junior year. Andrea fell in love with music by participating in concert band and marching band. Sara was cheer captain for two years for the basketball team, and even served as the bulldog mascot, Sgt. Spike.

Vanna attended GMC Prep from 6-12th grade and went on to attend the University of Georgia, where she graduated with honors in May of 2018. Andrea also attended GMC Prep until 12th grade, and then she went on to attend GMC JC for one year of college classes before transferring to Georgia College and State University. Andrea graduated from undergrad at GCSU in 2013 and received her master’s degree the following year. Sara was a member of the “7-year club” like Vanna and Andrea. She attended one year of GMC JC in 2011 before attending the University of North Georgia, where she graduated from in 2014.

The one thing that tied these three young women together as they graduated from GMC and went on to continue their studies? Their love for the education field and the desire to one day become teachers.

Little did these three know that their teaching careers would lead them all back to where their journeys started: Georgia Military College Prep School.

Many people reflect on their school experiences with fondness about the sports and activities they participated in or the memories they made with friends. These three women, however, when asked to reflect on their student experiences at GMC, all had one thing in common: their appreciation for the instilled values of character, kindness, and perseverance.

“GMC prepared me for the academic rigor of UGA, but just as importantly taught me many life skills that helped me succeed. GMC taught me the importance of self-respect, bearing, and character. A GMC education doesn’t only encompass content, it teaches students how to be successful adults,” shared Vanna.

“The military lifestyle affected me the most in that it gave me the structure and self-discipline I needed to best succeed in college, and in the teaching and business world,” said Andrea. “We had to rise to the challenges placed in front of us and find our own ways to succeed. GMC taught me that nothing is standing between me and my goals and dreams except for myself, I can make my own path to reach the success I am seeking.”

All three of these women attribute GMC’s dedicated faculty for inspiring them to pursue a career in education. Vanna is in her second year of teaching 6th grade English at GMC. Both Andrea and Sara are embarking upon their first-year as GMC teachers. Andrea teaches art to GMC’s elementary school students and Sara is teaching 3rd grade.

Sara was especially impacted by Kim Leben, who now serves as Associate Principal at the Prep School. “The teacher who impacted me the most while I was a student is now my associate principal. Kim Leben taught me math for multiple years, and she always had that ‘never give up’ and ‘I am here for you’ type of attitude. I’ve tried to instill that within my own classroom to let my students know I am always here for them,” noted Sara.

For Andrea, it was Anne Mason who made the most meaningful impact. “Mrs. Mason was probably one of the hardest teachers I ever had to date, especially when I had her in 6th grade and then in 9th grade physical science as well. Senior year I had Mrs. Mason for a third time and everything she had taught me in her previous two classes all clicked. She has a teaching system that works, a love for what she does, and a heart of gold that all impacted me. I honestly learned far more than just sciences with Mrs. Mason and I am forever grateful,” she shared.

Up until my junior year, English was my favorite subject because it came easily to me,” shared Vanna.  It wasn’t until Vanna was in Amanda Mercer’s class that she was truly challenged in the subject and inspired to keep pushing herself to succeed. “To make an A in that class was more challenging than any other A I’d earned in an English class before. Mrs. Mercer gave me the confidence to do well in my GMC Dual-Enrollment English classes the following year and beyond that, I was prepared to succeed in my upper-level English classes at UGA. Before Mrs. Mercer’s class, I loved English, but after her class, I was inspired to pursue a career teaching English,” noted Vanna.

All three of these teachers shared how grateful they are to have the ability to not just teach their students content but to impart life lessons to them. “At GMC we can teach so much more than at other schools. We teach life lessons, character, and how to treat people well. We have the time and flexibility to instill these lessons in our students. We are able to grow productive citizens who know how to talk to people, how to respect others, and how to work as a team,” said Sara.

Andrea is particularly excited to infuse passion and excitement into a subject that is often looked over in other school settings: art. “With art comes a new way to see the world and a new way to think in the world. Yes, we create and have fun doing so, but I want my students and those around us to see that we are working to challenge ourselves, learn about ourselves, and discover how we can use the arts to grow mentally and emotionally.”

As a 6th grade teacher, Vanna gets to watch her students become a part of GMC tradition in a new way as they learn to be a part of the Corps of Cadets. “My students rush back from drill to tell me that they were picked for the cadet board or that they won knock out drill. They have such a sense of wonder and excitement about most things,” shared Vanna.

While our students are with us at GMC, we strive to give them a strong character-based education where they are challenged and inspired to leave our campus and make a difference in their future careers and communities. We love hearing about what our alumni are up to in their adult lives, and we are especially thankful to get a front row seat to watch Vanna Stone, Andrea Sammons, and Sara Gray accomplish their dreams in the education field and in the process, impact the lives of our future alumni.