Education

Surprise visits announce Wake County Teacher of the Year finalists

Surprising Wake County Teacher of the Year Finalists

Wake County Superintendent Jim Merrill made surprise classroom visits on Thursday, April 6, 2017, to tell Lindsey Barton of Smith Elementary School in Garner and 12 other educators that they were finalists for the district's Teacher of the Year aw
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Wake County Superintendent Jim Merrill made surprise classroom visits on Thursday, April 6, 2017, to tell Lindsey Barton of Smith Elementary School in Garner and 12 other educators that they were finalists for the district's Teacher of the Year aw

Lindsey Barton’s first-grade students at Smith Elementary School in Garner have had more than a passing interest in whether their teacher is named Wake County Teacher of the Year.

Barton has told her students that it wasn’t just Teacher of the Year that was being picked but that Wake County was picking classroom of the year too. So the students were cheering Thursday after Superintendent Jim Merrill walked into Barton’s classroom to tell her that she’s a finalist for the 2017-18 Wake County Teacher of the Year award.

“It’s pretty cool to be recognized for what I do in the classroom but also for what they do in the classroom because I really do think I have just an amazing class,” Barton, 27, said after getting the news.

Barton’s award marked the end of a daylong series of surprise visits to schools to let the 13 finalists know of the honor. The district’s employee Twitter account, @WCPSSTeam, posted videos of each announcement, building anticipation around the county.

“Guys, this is one of the best teachers in Wake County,” Merrill said to students during his surprise visits.

The 12 other Wake finalists are:

▪ Rachel Castaneda of Highcroft Drive Elementary in Cary;

▪ Heather Collins of Heritage Elementary School in Wake Forest;

▪ Suzanne Gibbons of Wake STEM Early College in Raleigh;

▪ Betsy Graves of Broughton High School in Raleigh;

▪ Kelly Harris of Rand Road Elementary School in Garner;

▪ Christa Hayden of Wakefield High School in Raleigh;

▪ Erica Hoskins of Apex High School;

▪ Erin Johnson of the Vernon Malone College and Career Academy in Raleigh;

▪ Angela Joyner of Zebulon Elementary School;

▪ Erin Lawrence of Apex-Friendship High School in Apex;

▪ Kathleen Little of Green Elementary School in Raleigh;

▪ Mary Allison Nunnery of Holly Ridge Elementary School in Holly Springs.

May ceremony

The 13 finalists will have to wait until a ceremony on May 8 at the Raleigh Convention Center to find out who will win the top prize. The teachers went through a process in which all 177 Wake schools named a winner and the district shortened the list to 27 semifinalists in February.

Wake copied the process it used in surprising the 2016-17 finalists, with the top award eventually going to Miles Macleod of Heritage High School in Wake Forest.

Macleod and Deborah Brown of Research Triangle High School in Durham were among nine statewide finalists for 2017 North Carolina Teacher of the Year, but the award went Thursday to Lisa Godwin of Onslow County.

T. Keung Hui: 919-829-4534, @nckhui

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