Interview by Abernathy Cochran intern and Gainesville High School senior Donangelo Marshall
Meet Amy Berra Denton! Amy is a teacher at Chicopee Woods Elementary and is married to Taylor. She is originally from southwest Florida but has lived in Hall County for nearly 20 years.
We want to thank Amy for spending time with us recently and telling us more about her life and love of Hall County.
Question: Please tell us a little bit about yourself.
Answer: I was born in Georgia but I grew up in Anna Maria Island in Florida, then I moved up here to attend Brenau. I love the beach, I wish I was a mermaid because I just love going back to the beach as often as possible and visiting my family in Florida but I like up here too, I love seasons, this area kinda feels like home now. I started teaching at Chicopee Woods in 2005 when it opened, I taught 4th Grade for a long time but now I teach all students, I teach Kindergarten to 5th Grade. My focus is to get them speaking in class but we also do like singing, dancing, crafts and lots of reading just to get them engaged in pretty much everything to help them become better speakers.”
Q: What inspired you or led you to your current career?
A: I have always loved working with kids, I prefer children over adults and I’ve always had jobs where I’ve been around kids. It’s just so fun to see the light bulb come on when they learn something. I enjoy their company, they’re so fun to be around and they keep me young. I’ve always knew that I wanted to be a teacher and it’s my 16th year teaching.”
Q: What is your favorite restaurant in Hall County and what do you love there?
A: “I have two. I love Bluefin, it’s amazing and we love their Hibachi. And also Mellow Mushroom, we used to live across from it and we’d go there too often. We loved their Magical Mystery Tour Pizza though I don’t think they still have it but it has pesto, mushroom, feta, mozzarella…but I don’t like jalapeños.”
Q: Who is the most interesting person you’ve met here in Hall County?
A: “My friend Michelle Cantrell, she is amazing, she’s one of the most intelligent people I’ve ever met. She’s musically talented, a really hard worker, she’s very humble and she has the best sense of humor. She was the music teacher (at Chicopee Woods), she taught with me and now she works for Gainesville City.”
Q: If you could travel anywhere in the world right now, where would it be and why?
A: “I would go to Italy because I think my family is originally from there and I would like to eat and drink my way through the country, all the pasta and wine.”
Q: What is your favorite movie or what is the first movie you remember seeing in the theater?
A: “’The Little Mermaid,’ I love it so much and I love that Jodi Benson was the voice of little mermaid and she lives in Gainesville.”
Q: What advice would you give to a crowd of people?
A: “Just to be kind, I know it sounds cliche but I feel like I have to be a model for my students every day and I feel like if everyone was kind to each other the world will be a better place. Being watched by kids every day is a huge responsibility and you have to make sure everything that you say and do is basically something that their parents would be happy with.”
Q: What is something on your bucket list?
A: “I would love to go to New York and see all the Broadway shows and just spend as much time there as I possibly could with all the money in the world because I am a huge theater nerd.”
Q: What is your favorite music or three bands you would like to see (dead or alive)?
A: “I love show tunes…I did summer theater with Gainesville Community Theater a couple times, my friend Michelle invited me to do it and it was the best experience in my life that I wish I had done theater as a kid because it was so much fun. I also love Dave Matthews Band, I’ve seen him probably 18 times, I may have lost track of how many times because almost every year I’ve gone since high school. I like old country, like 80s and 90s country songs.”
Q: What current or former local business makes you the most nostalgic about Hall County?
A: “I would have to say Tap It in Gainesville because I was a bartender there for a couple years, maybe three years, and that’s where I met my husband so if it wasn’t for Tap It I wouldn’t have met him. He was working for Pro Touch Landscapes at that time, he came into Tap It when I was bartending on my birthday and I met in 2016; Zack (Thompson) actually introduced us.”
Q: If you could choose anyone that is alive today and not a relative; with whom would you love to have lunch? Why? And where locally would y’all meet for this lunch?
A: “Ellen DeGeneres, I love her, she’s fabulous. We would go to 2 Dog and just have an amazing conversation about how to make the world a better place and she would give my school a lot of money to do all the things that we wanted to do.”
Q: What is your favorite thing or something unique about Hall County?
A: “I like where it’s located, I think Hall County is in perfect spot because it’s close enough to Atlanta, if you want to go somewhere we have lakes, we’re close to the mountains; there’s everything here that you need. It’s about the same size as my hometown but it has a small town feel. I’ve met different people through school, church, work and summer theater and anytime you go somewhere you will run in with somebody you know. I also love the trails, there’s so many different places to walk the dog and take her to the lake.”
Q: Where do you see yourself in five to 10 years?
A: “Right here, hopefully I’ll retire at the same school I started teaching at, I love it and it’s just a great place to be. My husband and I live in Clermont and we love our neighborhood, I love our house and hopefully have kids by then.”
Q: Even for (friends or family), what is something that most people don’t know about you?
A: “I was gored by a cow when I was 6, I was playing with my neighbor outside, we jumped the fence , we were getting sticks to throw in the canal (I don’t’ know why) and my neighbor told me to go and get sticks by the baby cow and the mother cow didn’t appreciate that so she gored me and throw me to the air; my dad came and got me and we went to the hospital with no shoes on, the horn went in my side and punctured my lung.”
Q: What three words or phrases that comes to mind when you hear the word “HOME”?
A: “Peace, Family and Memories.”
Q: If you have a full-time staff member that is fully paid for, who would you choose? Chef, housekeeper, driver, coach, personal fitness trainer or nanny?
A: “My husband does most of the cooking and he’s a good cook, so I would hire a housekeeper to clean because I feel like we spend so much time trying to keep our house clean… I have so many other things that I could do with my life besides cleaning the house.”