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STAR Students and Teachers named

Oconee County Schools has announced its STAR Students and TeachersSTAR for 2021 – from North Oconee High School: STAR Student Embyr Williams and STAR Teacher Nicholas Mayhew; from Oconee County High School: STAR Student Kevin Zhang and STAR Teacher Jake Forrester. Embyr Williams was also named the Regional STAR winner!


“Congratulations to our STAR Students and STAR Teachers for this well-deserved recognition,” said Superintendent Jason L. Branch. “These students have demonstrated hard work and perseverance in the classroom and through multiple extracurricular opportunities. They have received tremendous support from their STAR Teacher, as well as their K-12 teachers and parents. I applaud all of those recognized for demonstrating sustained excellence in Oconee County Schools.”


The honorees are below:

  • Embyr Williams, a senior at North Oconee High School, is the daughter of Marie and Robin Williams. She plans to attend Columbia University this fall and major in computer science. Embyr is a National Merit Semifinalist, made a perfect score on the SAT, and is a National Advanced Placement (AP) Scholar. She is a first degree black belt in taekwondo, co-captain of the Science Olympiad team, and president of the Art Club.

    She selected Nicholas Mayhew as her STAR Teacher. Mr. Mayhew teaches Advanced Placement Chemistry, Honors Chemistry, and Physics at North Oconee High School. He is the sponsor of Science Olympiad and Ultimate Frisbee. This is his first year being selected as a STAR Teacher. He said, “Embyr is a wildly creative and brilliant student and has been an incredible honor to teach. She has dedicated herself to a set of core values that permeates all of her actions: integrity, respect, curiosity, responsibility, and doing her best – all while maintaining a great sense of humor. I firmly believe she will be a positive agent of change and I cannot wait to see her impact on our society.” 
  • Kevin Zhang, a senior at Oconee County High School, is the son of Rong Wu and Xiaoyu Zhang. He is deciding between UCLA and Georgia Tech for the fall and plans to major in aerospace engineering. He is the drum major in the marching band and saxophone section leader. In addition, he founded the school’s Ultimate Frisbee club. He is also a National Merit Finalist and a finalist for the Governor’s Honors Program in the area of physics.

    He selected Jake Forrester as his STAR Teacher. Mr. Forrester teaches Algebra II and Advanced Placement Calculus at Oconee County High School. He is also the assistant JV/varsity cross country coach and the assistant varsity baseball coach. He was the 2017 Oconee County High School Teacher of the Year and the STAR Teacher in 2017, 2018, 2019, and 2020, in addition to this year. Forrester was also named the 2020 Cross Country 3A Girls Coach of the Year by the Georgia Track & Field/Cross Country Coaches Association. He said, "Kevin is among the top students I have had the pleasure of teaching in my career. Along with a wonderfully creative and intelligent mind, Kevin is unrivaled in his kindness, generosity, and respect shown to his peers, his teachers, and his community as a whole. I have no doubt in my mind that his character and work ethic will pave the way for a bright and prosperous future." 

To be honored as a STAR (Student Teacher Achievement Recognition) Student, the following criteria must be met:

  1. SAT scores must meet the national averages or above. The students who receive the award have the highest SAT scores in all three sections – critical reading, math, and writing.
  2. Class standing must be noted. The student must be in the top 10% or among the top 10 students numerically, whichever category provides the largest number of eligible students in his or her graduating senior class.
  3. The student that has been declared the STAR Student chooses the STAR Teacher.