Chamber Chat: Teacher of the Year

May 20

By Meg Moss


What is a teacher? Merriam-Webster defines a teacher as “one that teaches; especially: one whose occupation is to instruct”. The Urban Dictionary, however, expands the definition to also include:  provider of knowledge and insight; mentor; one who inspires, motivates and opens up minds to the endless possibilities of which one can achieve; one who makes a positive difference in the lives of many; and one who is admired, appreciated and held in the highest esteem. 

You may have seen it on the front page of Wednesday’s Sanford Herald – Lee County Schools named their 2017-2018 Teacher of the Year (TOY) – Ms. Katie Eddings from Lee County High School. A great choice by the committee tasked to choose the winner from the names submitted from each public school in Lee County. Each school submits their own Teacher of the Year, and a committee made up of principals and past TOY recipients put the nominees through a rigorous interview process to determine the ultimate winner for the county.

I was honored to co-introduce these nominees with Bill Horner III from the Lee County Education Foundation; and as he eloquently stated, “What a remarkable group of 16 nominees, each of them Teacher of the Year at their respective schools...each of them deserved the honor of being named TOY for the entire county…. Our schools are blessed with a stellar collection of committed teachers and administrators.”

While Katie Eddings was the ultimate winner for the year, the other nominees were as follows: Heather Gaines from B.T. Bullock Elementary. Her principal indicated that she took on the momentous task of leading the Response to Intervention system for their school. James Beasley-Mungin was nominated from Bragg Street Academy, and his principal “prophetically declared him as a future superintendent of an amazing school district.” Lora Currin from Broadway Elementary approaches her classroom with three simple words: “You’ve. Got. This.” Deep River Elementary School’s nomination for Mary Beth Stec stated that God has truly blessed “the River” with Mrs. Stec’s teaching. A colleague of Yvette Batten’s considers her “Miss East Lee”, and Floyd L. Knight’s Candace Land is a trained parent educator through the Triple P- Positive Parenting Program. Reba Bowman, Greenwood’s Teacher of the Year is known for creating a team of parents and teachers to help her students succeed.  A parent needs a conference at 7:30 pm…. Mrs. Bowman will be waiting.  Can’t come to a conference?  Mrs. Bowman will come to you. Maggie Womble of J Glenn Edwards was affectionately described by her third graders as “giggling a lot and always listening to me”. Patty Barlow is in her 22nd year at JR Ingram! Lee Early College’s Brittni Delmaine frequently is called “Del-mom” by the freshman class, and she encourages her students to share their poetic talents at local poetry sessions. Vincent Pienaar was instrumental in SanLee Middle School being named an AVID National Demonstration School, one of four schools recognized with this honor in the state of North Carolina. Beulah Palmer from Southern Lee High School affectionately refers to her classroom as the "House of Love", and Caroline Phillips from Tramway Elementary keeps herself current on the most popular dance moves for the brain breaks she offers to her kiddos throughout the day. Millie Harris from Warren Williams Schools has advice for aspiring teachers: Understand WHY you want to teach, WHAT you want to teach, and WHO you want to teach. And last but not least, Travis Adkison from West Lee Middle is described as doing whatever it takes to assist his students in being successful as they can be.

On behalf of the Sanford-Lee County business community, I want to truly thank our teachers for what they are doing to prepare our future workforce. From a very young age, all the way to their careers, students are impacted by teachers. Thank you for what you do! 


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