CLARKSTON, Ga. — A home-schooled 20-year-old with nine siblings and a former bartender and sommelier have been named the student and teacher of the year for Georgia Piedmont Technical College.

2024 GOAL winner Allison Hammer

Medical assisting student and 2024 Georgia Occupational Award of Leadership (GOAL) winner for Georgia Piedmont, Allison “Ally” Hammer of Covington, calls herself “number four in the lineup” of ten children; she has five sisters and four brothers. Hammer jokes that she chose Georgia Piedmont Technical College while searching the college website at three in the morning one day in August. She “went down the rabbit hole of the amazing technical programs” and quickly found herself hooked by all the offerings and enthusiasm of everyone she contacted. Hammer started in the practical nursing program but transferred to medical assisting when she saw how many opportunities it offered. She is set to finish her program in August of this year.

“I would recommend GPTC or any technical education to others – especially high schoolers,” Hammer said. “When it comes to education, I believe that technical/trade programs are incredibly important and make the world run. You are pretty much always guaranteed a job immediately after completing the program.”

There were ten other nominees for the GPTC 2024 GOAL award: Gabriel Butts, Hannah Dockery (finalist), Subharda Gupta, Marcilla Johnson (finalist), Taylor Russell, Angela Saldana, Angela Taylor, Viviana Villanueva (finalist), Rodrigous Williams (finalist), and Selam Wondimagegn.

The 2024 Rick Perkins Award (RPA) for Georgia Piedmont Technical College’s instructor of the year goes to 55-year-old English teacher Robert “Bob” Reno of DeKalb County. Reno has two daughters, the youngest is enrolled as a dual enrollment student at Georgia Piedmont. The first few chapters of his career path revolved around the service industry, having been a waiter, bartender, manager and even a sommelier. “I have worked at chain restaurants, at hip, local joints and in fine-dining restaurants that have been open for decades,” Reno said.

2024 GPTC Rick Perkins Award winner Robert Reno

In his 40’s, Reno started his master’s program in teaching.

When asked why core classes, like English, are so important to technical college students Reno said, “A field like English revolves around skills such as composition and articulation that can be learned and perfected. Technical college students need to be able to express themselves masterfully in order to compose effective resumes, to communicate clearly at work, and to be understood accurately and specifically in all areas of life.”

He calls his vocation “the perfect combination of service, learning, and problem solving” and hopes to pass on to his students the belief that every one of them has excellence inside of them. Fellow core curriculum peer, math instructor Tameillia Cain, joined Reno as an RPA nominee.

Both winners collected a $500 award from the GPTC Foundation.

RPA winner Robert “Bob” Reno poses with (left to right) Dr. Ramona Yarbrough/AVP of Academic Affairs, Dr. Sharmon Monagan/Exec. Dir. of the GPTC Foundation and GPTC President Dr. Tavarez Holston.
GPTC’s 2024 GOAL winner Allison “Ally” Hammer shows off her giant check with her parents, nominating instructor Janice Pressley, Exec. Dir. of the GPTC Foundation Dr. Sharmon Monagan and GPTC President Dr. Tavarez Holston.

Bob Reno and Ally Hammer will go on to compete regionally in March. Regional winners will vie for the state title in April. Statewide winners will be advocates for Georgia’s technical education system for the next year and the GOAL winner will drive home in a new car. Congratulations to all the nominees and to our winners!