As a child in Blacksburg, Va., Kimberly Tuttle suspected that her mother, a teacher, must be a secret celebrity. “Whenever we went to the grocery store, it was ‘Mrs. Day! Mrs. Day!’ ” she recalls.
As an English teacher at Levine Middle College High, Tuttle herself came to understand the public demands on a teacher. And she’s so good at her job that Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools on Wednesday named her its 2019 Teacher of the Year.
It’s the second time CMS has honored Tuttle, 45, as one of its best educators. Twenty years ago, at the end of her first year teaching at West Charlotte High, she was named the district’s New Teacher of the Year.
“This has been really cool to have all this come full circle after 20 years of teaching,” she said.
Tuttle teaches 11th grade English honors and advanced placement language and composition at Levine.
“Every day is a good day in Ms. Tuttle’s classroom,” Principal Joey Burch said. “She is prepared each day, not only with a quality lesson plan, but with a welcoming smile and a nurturing learning environment.”
The five other finalists for the award: Tyler Erb, Community House Middle; Precious Kotte, Metro School; Cherelle Phelps, West Charlotte High; Nancy Pursley, Huntersville Elementary; and Alicianna Smith, Stoney Creek Elementary.
Micah Fagan of Northridge Middle was named Teacher Assistant of the Year. Fagan works with all three grade levels, focusing on math, but sometimes teaches science or social studies. He’s a Clemson University graduate and former walk-on with its football team who’s now studying for a master’s degree in math so he can teach the subject.
‘In my blood’
Tuttle’s family tradition in education extends beyond her mom, who taught for 34 years. She called it “something in my blood.” Her brother and sister-in-law are teachers and her sister is an educational consultant.
She met her future husband at West Charlotte and he still teaches, now at Charlotte Country Day School.
“Each day I walk in the classroom, my children are my children,” she said. “I teach with my heart, I teach to their heart, I teach to their soul. And I know that once you walk into my classroom, you’re not a student anymore, you’re my child. I’m going to give you the best each day because that’s what I would want for my own two daughters.”
She credited Burch, Levine’s principal, as a mentor for the past 12 years, first at North Mecklenburg High.
“It feels good,” she said of celebrating the honor. “You know the whole thing about, ‘what are you going to do, where will you go, to Disney World?’ I’m going back to my class tomorrow with my kids and that is my Disney World. We’ll have a joyful day tomorrow and I’m sure they’re going to say ‘Do we still have to give our speech?’ Yes, you still have give your end-of-the-year speech.”
Tuttle’s award comes with $1,700 from sponsor Charles G. Monnett III & Associates, a one-year car lease from Keffer Volkswagen, a television from the National Teachers Association and school supplies from Classroom Central. Fagan got $1,000 from Monnett III & Associates, a TV and supplies from Classroom Central.