The 2016-17 Teachers of the Year in the Watauga County Schools have been chosen and the new honorees include Jake Orange of Bethel, Martha Trimble of Blowing Rock, Madison Hollar of Cove Creek, Jennifer Brown of Green Valley, Brooke Huffman of Hardin Park, Sumer Williams of Mabel, Kim Pryor of Parkway, Courtney McClellan-Brown of Valle Crucis, and George Wilson of Watauga High School.
Teachers of the Year are chosen at each school by their professional colleagues. Teachers in all grade levels and subjects are eligible for the award and the nine Teachers of the Year are selected from among over 350 teachers in the WCS system.
“The most important and most exceptional aspect of our school system is the number of outstanding teachers in our schools,” said Superintendent Dr. Scott Elliott. “To be named a Teacher of the Year in the Watauga County Schools is a truly great honor and I extend my congratulations and appreciation to all nine of these exceptional educators. I also want to thank all of our teachers for their commitment to their students and their profession. There is no work more important than the work of a teacher and there are no greater teachers than those in the Watauga County Schools.”
The exceptional quality of teachers in the Watauga County Schools is evident in both their credentials and in student performance on state-required tests. A significantly higher proportion of WCS teachers have graduate degrees than teachers across the state and the proportion of WCS teachers who have achieved National Board Certification consistently ranks near the top among the 115 school districts in North Carolina. Students in WCS routinely outperform state averages on the required End-of-Grade tests and End-of-Course tests and have a graduation rate above the state average. In addition, students at Watauga High School achieve the second best SAT scores and the fourth highest ACT scores out of the 115 school districts in NC.
Elliott said that the excellent professional credentials and strong results achieved by WCS teachers are impressive, but that their quality as individuals is equally important. “Our teachers display a level of caring and commitment that is an inspiration to anyone who observes their work. Our families see those qualities reflected in the service that teachers provide to students every day, and it is the main reason that people here really love their schools.”
Each school’s Teacher of the Year will receive an award of $350 from the school system and is automatically a candidate for Watauga County Schools Teacher of the Year. The person chosen as WCS Teacher of the Year will receive an additional $350 from the school system. Local businesses will also be given an opportunity to donate gift certificates or other prizes to help recognize Teachers of the Year.
The businesses that supported Teachers of the Year with donations last year included Chetola Resort, Chick-fil-A, Stick Boy Bread Company, Panera Bread, AFLAC, Bandana’s Bar-B-Q and Grill, Dos Amigos, Friendship Honda of Boone, Hardee’s, Makoto’s, Subway, Cornerstone Bookstore, BeanStalk Community Theatre, Haircut 101, Michael’s, Omega Tees and Screen Printing, Precision Printing, Hibbett Sports, SageSport, Blue Ridge Vision, Tanger Outlets, and Walgreens. Businesses or individuals interested in making a donation this year are encouraged to contact Human Resources Director Dr. Stephen Martin or Public Information Director Marshall Ashcraft at 828 264-7190.
The WCS Teacher of the Year for 2016-17 will be announced in May after a selection process that includes interviews, unannounced teacher observations in classrooms, and a review of a written statement of teaching philosophy prepared by each candidate. The committee making the selection includes teachers, school administrators, and Jason Cornett of the Watauga County Board of Education.
The current WCS Teacher of the Year is Allison Sparks, who was teaching kindergarten at Bethel when she won the award and is now teaching second grade at Valle Crucis. The Teachers of the Year for 2015-16 also include Liz Tincher of Blowing Rock, Dorothy Combs of Cove Creek, Amy Lunceford of Green Valley, Brianne Thurman of Hardin Park, Amy Thomas of Mabel, Natalie Willis of Parkway, Laura Huber of Valle Crucis, and Linda Hollar of Watauga High School.