"I'm very overwhelmed right now," Walker said as she tried to manage holding in her arms prizes like a watch, plant and gift bag all while talking to the press. "I'm just so enthusiastic about everything and just very humbled and honored."
She said the most rewarding aspect of teaching is building relationships with her students.
"I get intrinsic rewards [from teaching], like the students thank me every day," Walker said. "I can't even describe what it's like to be a teacher and everyday is just a blessing and a true joy."
The other finalists were Kevin Brown, band director at Adairsville High School, and Janet Robison, a science instructor at Woodland High School.
All 20 schools in Bartow County had selected their own teacher of the year and each was honored at the banquet with a plaque and words from their principal and colleagues.
Walker was described as "a model teacher ... with a natural innate ability to fully understand the needs of each child, a teacher whose class feels inspired and rejuvenated, a dedicated educator with strong moral standards and professional integrity."
The annual banquet is sponsored through donations acquired by the Bartow County Education Foundation and the meal was provided by Georgia Bank & Trust.
Each year, the foundation raises money through local businesses as well as a direct deduction program from county school paychecks to fund classroom grants to supplement instruction. Executive Director Dot Frasier said providing these resources to classrooms is a community effort.
"There is a great need here," Frasier said. "Everybody who wants to move here, the first thing they say is, 'How's the school system?'"
"The education of the children is everybody's job. It takes a city, it takes a town to educate a child. The money we get from the state is just minimum, so the things we need to educate our children, we must provide that because, if we don't, we're going to suffer down the road.
"We have bright children, they have good minds and we have to do what we need to do to keep those minds and to keep them interested and to keep them on task."
President Wayne Moore said although the county is facing economic hardships, there still exists the desire to help educate Bartow students through foundation grants.
"The community has been very gracious and very supportive and I think we all recognize the importance of education in the community," Moore said. "I'm a product of the Bartow County School System, I'm native to this area and it's good to see people ... who have donated money so we can put on the teacher of the year banquet are some of the same people who are donating to the teacher grant program."
He added, "The community has done an extremely good job of being supportive and stepping up to the plate and helping."
Also honored at the banquet: Ashley Goble of Adairsville Elementary School; Taunya Riddell of Allatoona Elementary School; Natalie Taylor of Clear Creek Elementary School; Jimmi Hale of Cloverleaf Elementary School; Madonna Harris of Emerson Elementary School; Lance Marvel of Euharlee Elementary School; Randi Burlison of Hamilton Crossing Elementary School; Susan Mayweather of Mission Road Elementary School; Donya Pettit of Pine Log Elementary School; Lori Kalain of STARS Pre-K Center; Linda Vernon of Taylorsville Elementary School; Jennifer DeHart of White Elementary School; Amber Bunce of Adairsville Middle School; Greg Smith of Cass Middle School; Sarah Jordan of South Central Middle School; Jackie McMahan of Woodland Middle School; and Christy Mason of Cass High School.