Teacher Appreciation Week begins Sunday. The theme this year is “Teachers Deliver.” As superintendent of Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools, which employs nearly 9,000 full-time classroom teachers, I know that our teachers deliver every day. They teach with determination and dedication, with heart and soul and with a strong belief that every student can learn.
Let me give you nine examples: the finalists for the CMS 2017 Teacher of the Year.
Deanna Cureton is the 2017 Teacher of the Year for CMS. She teaches English Honors II. Her classroom has a strong ethic of high expectations and mutual respect. She joined Charlotte Engineering Early College last year.
Mary Kathryn Fashjian has incorporated reading and gardening into her fourth-grade classroom at Dilworth Elementary, even starting a garden outside her classroom window. She models learning for her students.
Dana Frank teaches science at Community House Middle. Her motto is “Everyone is a scientist” and she takes great joy in converting students who dislike science.
Krystil Irvin loves literature and works to ignite that passion in her eighth-grade language arts students at Crestdale Middle. Her classroom has bookcases tucked into every available space.
Dahleesia Oates Johnson is in her second year of teaching in CMS – but she’s no newcomer. The second-grade Sterling Elementary teacher attended Elizabeth Traditional, Hawthorne Middle and graduated from Olympic High School. Both her parents worked for CMS, her two siblings worked in the After School Enrichment Program and two of her grandparents retired from CMS.
Maggie Mason became interested in child development after the birth of her son. She became a teacher assistant at Davidson Elementary in 2007 and a teacher in 2008 when her son was a second-grader there. Today, she is a third-grade teacher and he’s a senior at Hough High.
Jeneise Myrick worked in community outreach for sports and entertainment for the National Collegiate Athletic Association, the United States Tennis Association and the National Basketball Association for 10 years before joining CMS 12 years ago as a culinary arts teacher. She teaches at West Charlotte.
Amber Pratt teaches at Hidden Valley Elementary. She remembers a third-grader who disliked everything about school. She worked with him to improve his grades and his behavior. He graduated from Harding and wrote to Pratt recently to tell her that her investment in him helped him succeed.
As a child, Sarah Pinti Robinson wanted to be her first-grade teacher, Mrs. Robinson. Predictably, she became a teacher. Somewhat less predictably, she married a man named Robinson. She’s realized her childhood dream: She’s become Mrs. Robinson the teacher at Montclaire Elementary.
These remarkable educators are a powerful reminder that teaching is important.
We share a collective responsibility to encourage aspiring educators. Too often, I hear stories of a CMS student who wants to enter education but is being discouraged by adults who focus on the salary or the long hours. When someone wants to become a teacher, we should encourage that aspiration so that we have a pipeline of teachers like the nine described above – teachers who are passionate about the work, love being in the classroom and can’t imagine doing anything else. I challenge everyone in our community to encourage aspiring teachers. We need great teachers. We will get them only if we individually and collectively affirm the value of teaching.
Clark is superintendent of Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools.