DURHAM — Cynthia Watkins was named the 2013 Durham Public Schools Teacher of the Year on Thursday.
Watkins is a 22-year veteran who has taught kindergarten for the last three years at Spring Valley Elementary School. She was chosen from five finalists vying for the honor.
“When I come in and I look at those faces each and every day, and see the potential there, that’s why I teach,” Watkins said in a written statement. “It doesn’t matter what has happened to me on the way to work or before I come to work. When I walk through the doors, it’s exciting every day to see them learn and grow.”
Watkins is an active participant with the Durham Partnership for Children in a monthly forum called “Teacher Talks,” where teachers meet with day-care providers to discuss ways to better prepare children and families for the transition to kindergarten.
Watkins has also piloted a summer tutoring program and volunteered in English as a Second Language camps to prevent summer learning loss.
“Mrs. Watkins exemplifies the qualities a principal looks for in a teacher: creativity, dedication, a love of learning, mastery of content, and a true commitment to excellence,” Spring Valley Elementary principal Barbara Parker said in a written statement.
Watkins received a $1,000 award. She will now compete in the state Teacher of the Year program.