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NEWS RELEASES 1999-00

NEWS RELEASES 1999-00 :: MAY 2, 2000

BEAUFORT COUNTY SECOND GRADE TEACHER NAMED TEACHER OF THE YEAR

Laura Bilbro-Berry, a second grade teacher at John C. Tayloe Elementary School in Beaufort County, was named the 2000-01 North Carolina Teacher of the Year at a luncheon today in Cary.

State Superintendent Mike Ward made the presentation saying that teachers are the heart of a school and the key to academic achievement. "Teachers are the driving force behind North Carolina's significant academic improvement. When we lead the nation in education, it will be because of their efforts and dedication," Ward said.

As state Teacher of the Year, Bilbro-Berry will represent North Carolina in the National Teacher of the Year competition. She succeeds Kim Hughes, a kindergarten teacher at Fox Road Elementary School in Wake County.

For the first time, the state's Teacher of the Year was given an automobile thanks to the NC Automobile Dealers Association. Under this new partnership, the NC Automobile Dealers Association also sponsored the state Teacher of the Year luncheon and will cover the expenses associated with six regional leadership and professional development symposiums that will be led by the regional Teachers of the Year.

Harry Brown, president of the NC Automobile Dealers Association, said that the NC Automobile Dealers Association is very proud of the superb work teachers put forth in educating children in the classroom. "Second only to parents, teachers hold the future of a young child in their hands and words," Brown said.

The NC Center for International Understanding presented the state Teacher of the Year with the Carolyn Hunt Scholarship that will pay for a trip abroad.

Bilbro-Berry has taught seven years, having also worked three summers as a reading tutor for schools in Greenville and Washington, as a summer school teacher at Eastern Elementary in Washington, and one year as a fifth grade teacher at H.B. Sugg Elementary in Farmville.

Professionally, she is a member of the International Reading Association and the North Carolina Council for the Teachers of Mathematics. She has been involved in a number of staff development leadership activities at Tayloe Elementary including serving as a committee member for the school's Writing Improvement Team, as a teacher trainer/facilitator for Reading Renaissance, as project chairman and coordinator for Family Math Night and as a mentor. She has also presented at a workshop for the North Carolina Council for the Teachers of Mathematics. She has received numerous awards including being named Beaufort County 2000 Teacher of the Year, Phi Kappa Phi Honors Society, Caught Caring at Tayloe recipient in 2000 and 1999, a 1999 North Carolina Council for the Teachers of Mathematics Grant Recipient and Beaufort County Chamber of Commerce grant recipient, and, in 1998, Beaufort County's Outstanding Elementary Mathematics Educator of the Year.

A graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and a student in the Master's of Education program at East Carolina University, Bilbro-Berry also is very active in her local community. She's applied for a number of grants to purchase tape players, books on tape, and other print materials for use by students of low-income families. She also organized workshops to promote literacy including a Family Skate Night where students and their families could skate free and receive information on creating literacy experiences at home. Currently, she is gathering adult books to create a Parent Book Exchange program for school families. She plans to receive literacy volunteer training this spring.

A statewide panel selected the Teacher of the Year after interviews with the six finalists, visits to their classrooms and conversations with their colleagues and students.

The state's Teacher of the Year spends the school year traveling the state as an ambassador for the teaching profession. They also receive a $7,500 stipend, a laptop computer and printer and a trip to the national conference. In addition, the state Teacher of the Year serves a two-year term as advisor to the State Board of Education.

The other regional finalists were: Central Region - Mark Payne, a ninth - twelfth grade band instructor at Walter M. Williams High School, Alamance-Burlington Schools; Northwest Region - Jeanne Laws, an eighth grade English/Language Arts teacher at Elkin High School, Elkin City Schools; Southeast Region - Judy L. Lewis, a sixth - eighth grade Band/Chorus instructor at Grantham School, Wayne County; Southwest Region - Vickie Honeycutt, a ninth, tenth and twelfth grade English teacher at Mt. Pleasant High School, Cabarrus County; and Western Region - Amy Orr Hobbs, a tenth and twelfth grade English/Advanced English teacher at Robbinsville High School, Graham County.

For additional information, please contact Chris Godwin, Teacher Education, DPI, 919.807.3375.

About the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction:
The North Carolina Department of Public Instruction provides leadership to 115 local public school districts and 126 charter schools serving over 1.5 million students in kindergarten through high school graduation. The agency is responsible for all aspects of the state's public school system and works under the direction of the North Carolina State Board of Education.


For more information:
NCDPI Communication and Information Division, 919.807.3450.