Inga Easterling Cashon is Tattnall’s System-Wide Teacher of the Year, after being selected as North Tattnall Middle School’s Teacher of the Year.
When her principal, Donny Sikes, introduced Inga at the May 23, 2022, Tattnall County Board of Education (BOE) meeting, he was profuse in his praise of her teaching and innovativeness in the classroom.
“I was really humbled by the honor at North Tattnall Middle School (NTMS), since this is only my third year at the school. I work with an amazing group of fellow educators who are all invested in our students,” Inga said.
Inga actually began the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) program at NTMS. Prior to coming to NTMS, she taught for 11 years at Bryan County High School in Pembroke. Donny Sikes was her assistant principal, and when he came to Tattnall as an administrator, he quickly recruited Inga to return to her home county to start a STEM program.
Inga has not followed the traditional path to becoming a teacher. She earned her first degree from Southeastern Technical College (STC) in Computer Information Systems. From there, she began attending Georgia Southern University (GSU) where she worked as a student assistant while earning her Bachelor of Science in Education in Technology Education degree.
“STC was beneficial in helping me to transition to GSU. Since I graduated in December, I decided to continue as a graduate assistant at GSU while working on a Master’s degree in Education in Teaching and Learning, which I earned in 2009. My emphasis was on engineering and technology education,” Inga said. “My first year of teaching was at Bryan County High School, where I taught until coming to Tattnall. While at Bryan High, I taught ninth through twelfth graders in the Engineering and Technology College Pathway,” she said.
Inga also taught Electronics and Broadcast Communications, which involved a weekly news show compiled by the students under her direction.
Inga is currently in year three of a six-year program for her Doctorate of Education in Curriculum Studies with an emphasis on engineering and technology education. She admits that it is a goal that she is determined to complete, which involves 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. classes one Saturday a month at GSU and studying that averages at least an hour a night and on the weekends.
In her very first year of teaching at NTMS, Inga was recognized as the Georgia STEM Scholar for 2020, which involved submitting a project that the students developed.
“Our STEM students built rockets and launched them on the baseball field. A part of the learning process was safety measures that had to be taken, such as wearing goggles and the distance we had to keep away after the rockets were launched,” Inga said, with the official presentation and reception in her honor canceled due to COVID at the end of the 2019-2020 school year.
Since coming to NTMS, she has initiated a STEM program that involves students who are high scoring in math and science who stay in her class during their sixth, seventh, and eighth grades. However, another track still offers other students the opportunity to participate in STEM.
“I really love what I do, and these students challenge me because they are always ready for a new project or area of study. Their zeal and desire to learn push me to do more each day to challenge them as well,” Inga said.
Inga has lived in Statesboro for the past 14 years. She is married to Trey Cashon of Statesboro, who is employed at GSU in IT Services. His parents are Earl and Helen Cashon, who are both retired from GSU. Trey has one sister, Candi Cashon Williams, who lives in Nashville, Tennessee, with her husband, Mark. Candi works in marketing for Dave Ramsey in Nashville, and Mark is a high school coach and teacher. Their two sons are Cash and Beau Williams.
Inga is originally from Glennville, and she is the daughter of Pat and India Easterling, now residents of Reidsville. India is a real estate agent for McLeod Properties in Glennville. Pat is a former county commissioner, a member of the former Easterling Family Farm, and now has a thriving lawn care/maintenance business in the county. Inga has one brother, Josh, who lives in Reidsville with his wife, Danielle, and their three-year-old son, Daine. Josh is employed by Georgia Public Safety in the region that includes Statesboro. He recently placed first in an inspection competition held at Lake Lanier, and this is actually the second time he has won the competition; he will now compete nationally in Indiana. Danielle is a civil engineer with Thomas and Hutton, Engineers, in Savannah.
Inga and Trey’s family would not be complete without their dog, an adorable one-year-old Bichon Frise. She is named Dolly Carolina Pawton, after Dolly Parton, and finding her in North Carolina.
Trey does most of the cooking in the household, although Inga states that both her parents and Trey’s parents are excellent cooks. Inga has a recipe book that her mother prepared for her when she married Trey, and she does refer to it often.
Both Trey and Inga enjoy frequent trips to Disney World in Orlando, and Inga enjoys reading when she is not immersed in her STEM preparations or studying for her doctorate classes.
“My STEM classes are very fulfilling, and my students who were in the sixth grade when I began teaching at NTMS in the fall of 2019 just completed the eighth grade. I became quite attached to these students over the past three years. Teaching is a satisfying profession, since you can see the positive difference you can make in the lives of your students,” Inga said.
Inga Easterling Cashon’s Recipes
EASY PINEAPPLE UPSIDE-DOWN CAKE
1/4 cup butter
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 can (20-oz.) pineapple slices in juice, drained, juice reserved
1 jar (6-oz.) maraschino cherries without stems, drained
1 box Betty Crocker Super Moist Yellow Cake Mix
vegetable oil and eggs called for on cake mix box
Heat oven to 350° F. (325° F. for dark or nonstick pan). In a 13x9-inch pan, melt butter in the oven. Sprinkle brown sugar evenly over butter. Arrange pineapple slices on brown sugar. Place cherries in the center of each pineapple slice, and arrange remaining cherries around slices; press gently into brown sugar.
Add enough water to reserved pineapple juice to measure 1 cup. Make cake batter as directed on the box, substituting pineapple juice mixture for the water. Pour batter over pineapple and cherries.
Bake 42 to 48 minutes (44 to 53 minutes for dark or nonstick pan) or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Immediately run the knife around the side of the pan to loosen the cake. Place heatproof serving plate upside down onto pan; turn plate and pan over. Leave the pan over the cake for 5 minutes so brown sugar topping can drizzle over the cake; remove pan. Cool 30 minutes. Serve warm or cool. Store covered in refrigerator.
FROZEN FRUIT SALAD
1 can cherry pie filling
1 can condensed milk
1 large container Cool Whip
1 large can crushed pineapple with juice
1 c. chopped nuts
Mix all ingredients together and freeze. Cut into squares and serve while frozen.
SEVEN LAYER SALAD
1 head of lettuce, chopped
1 cup diced celery
1 cup sweet onions
1 cup bell pepper
1 pkg. frozen peas
1-1/2 cups mayonnaise
3 tsp. dried basil
1 tsp. sugar
Layer in salad bowl the lettuce, celery, onion, bell pepper, and frozen garden peas. Spread dressing over this. Top with layer of cheddar cheese and bacon bits before serving. Refrigerate overnight.