Friday, April 8, 2016

North Carolina Teacher of the Year Ceremony: Quick Reflection

Burroughs Wellcome Fund North Carolina Teacher of the Year
Celebrating North Carolina Educators: A Showcase of Excellence

I had the incredible opportunity to attend the 2016 North Carolina Teacher of the Year Ceremony and Luncheon on Thursday, April 2016.  Lake Norman Charter's Brandon Brown was recognized in December as the NC Charter Schools Teacher of the Year.  Charter Schools are clustered to form the ninth "region" of the state and the Charter School Teacher of the Year joins the Regional Teachers of the Year team as finalists for the state Teacher of the Year.

Mr. Brown was joined with the support of his wife Sarah, two children, his mother, father, and sister. They were able to join us in December for the surprise announcement in front of our entire faculty and student body and it was a very special moment for the table to see Brandon recognized at the highest level for North Carolina educators.

I attempted to collect this privilege in 140 characters before the event began:
The 140 characters did not nearly approach the true honor of attending this prestigious event.  Thursday's event was symbolic of how fortunate any school leader is to be able to join a teacher in such an illustrious day of recognition.  I made sure to simply enjoy the experience and I am confident Mr. Brown did the same.

What I didn't expect was how inspiring the day would be.

The entire complex was filled with incredible educators, many of who were easily recognizable  This included, but was not limited to, connecting with the likes of Steve Lassiter, the 2015 Wells Fargo Principal of the Year, who represented the State Board of Education and Dr. David Stegall, Superintendent of Newton-Conover, both of which are influential members of my Professional Learning Network and both have directly influenced my own leadership.
When Keana Triplett gave her final address as the 2015 NC Teacher of the Year, you couldn't help but find her passion, dedication, and service to public education as extremely uplifting.

Each Regional Candidate was recognized through an individual tribute, which included media from their own classroom, history of their experience, and their own teaching philosophy.

All nine candidates represented a diverse-range of levels, subjects, and school populations.  The teachers ranged from HS Social Studies to 5th Grade Math to Kindergarten, but the commonalities through their passion, leadership, and optimism was nothing short of awe-inspiring.

Dr. June Atkinson ultimately announced Bobbie Cavnar of South Point HS (Gaston County Schools) as the 2016 Burroughs Wellcome Fund NC Teacher of the Year.  Mr. Cavnar's speech was clear indication that he is the absolutely perfect educator to serve as an advocate for public education in North Carolina.  When I congratulated South Point Principal Gary Ford and shared how inspiring his three-minute video was, he responded, " should see it in person."

Upon returning home, I did have one regret about the event:  My only wish was that more people could have attended Thursday's event.

The day was filled with positively, enthusiasm, and appreciation for the daily efforts of not only the finalists, but of all dedicated educators throughout North Carolina.  I wish we could have filled an arena with the public to hear and see the passion shared by so many.

While the number of attendees was limited, all educators were represented through their various regional finalists.  The teachers represented the daily efforts and success by all teachers, counselors, assistants, and administrators.

Being able to attend on Mr. Brown's behalf as he represented all North Carolina Charter Schools is an experience I will always cherish.

Thanks for viewing,


The opinions shared in this blog belong to Craig Smith and do not represent the school or district in which he works.


  1. Beautiful post, Craig. Congratulations to Mr. Brown. It is quite an honor to be a Regional TOY - and all of these amazing educators are representative of what our teachers do each day in the classrooms across NC. Mr. Cavnar is such a treasure to us here in GCS (I personally have been blessed to have him teach two of my own children). I know he will be an amazing NC TOY! Hope you are well! DA

  2. Craig,
    Congratulations to Mr. Brown. I'm sure he is an exceptional teacher. Ashbrook High School is proud of Mr. Cavnar. We know he will serve North Carolina well as Teacher of the Year.

  3. The ceremony is truly an inspiring one indeed. So many people in one room who truly care about the students they teach! I am so proud of Brandon for his accomplishment and for what he does in the classroom each and every day. Lake Norman Charter is blessed to have him a part of our staff!

  4. Craig, thank you for your thoughtful leadership and excellent post about the TOY ceremony. We are proud of Mr. Brown and believe he will serve as great representation for North Carolina's charter schools. He is fortunate to serve under such fine leadership!