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NEWS RELEASES 2004-05 :: MAY 3, 2005


Wendy Miller, a K-2 elementary teacher at James W. Smith Elementary School, Craven County Schools, was named the 2005-06 North Carolina Teacher of the Year at a formal banquet held tonight in Cary. Miller succeeds Lizbeth Alfaro, a K-6 English as a Second Language teacher at Lyle Creek Elementary School, Catawba County Schools.

State Superintendent Tricia Willoughby made the presentation, saying that North Carolina is fortunate to have so many dedicated and highly skilled teachers in its classrooms. "Teachers are the key educational resource in our schools. We depend on their expertise and creativity to ensure that students are prepared for the future. Wendy is a wonderful example of why our state's future looks so bright."

In accepting the award, Miller said her message would be simple, "to encourage all teachers to become advocates of their profession, risk-takers in their practice, and supporters of their students." She added that she will share with students the power of education and its ability to help them realize their potential for it is only through education that "we begin to understand, accept, and celebrate diversity in our schools, our communities and our world."

Thanks to the NC Automobile Dealers Association (NCADA), the state's Teacher of the Year once again received one of the ultimate rewards for a job well done - a 2005 Mazda 3. Under this partnership with the Public Schools of North Carolina, the NCADA also sponsored the night's dinner, activities and awards.

Bruce Biggs, chairman of the NC Automobile Dealers Association, said, "Each teacher holds a special talent that allows them to reach students and challenge them to understand the value of a lifetime of learning. They not only teach them to be intelligent, but to be ethical and moral members of society. And as such, franchised dealers are proud to honor the very best North Carolina teachers." Biggs said that 2005 represents the sixth consecutive year of its dealers' involvement in this tremendous event to honor North Carolina's best teachers, and that they are exceptionally proud of their partnership with the NC Department of Public Instruction.

Miller has 18 years of teaching experience, seven in her current position. Professionally she is a member of the North Carolina Association of Educators, the Council for Exceptional Children, the International Reading Association, and the teacher representative for the Craven County Board of Education.

She has received several awards and recognitions including 2005 Southeast Region Teacher of the Year, 2004 Craven County Schools' Teacher of the Year/Teacher Ambassador, 2003 Disney American Teacher of the Year Honoree, and in 2003 was featured in the ABC television special, "Heroes in the Classroom," and appeared as a guest that year on the Wayne Brady Show, "Salute to America's Best Teachers."

She received a bachelor's degree in special education from the University of North Carolina at Wilmington, and a master's degree in curriculum/administration from East Carolina University. She achieved National Board Certification in 2002. Miller presented at the East Carolina Clinical Teachers Conference in 2005, served as a facilitator for National Board Certification support for Craven County Schools in 2004, and provided Summer Institute Training for Initially Licensed Teachers in Craven County in 2004, in addition to serving as keynote speaker and presenter at a number of other events and conferences over the years.

The state's Teacher of the Year spends the school year traveling the state as an ambassador for the teaching profession. She also receives a one-time $7,500 stipend, a technology package from SMARTer Kids Foundation, a trip to the International Space Camp, an international trip through the NC Center for International Understanding, and a trip to the National Teacher of the Year conference. In addition, the state Teacher of the Year serves as an advisor to the State Board of Education for two years.

The other regional finalists were: North Central Region: Jo Anne Honeycutt, Cleveland Middle, Johnston County Schools; Northeast Region: Caroline Pearce, First Flight High, Dare County Schools; Northwest Region: Paula Gambill, W.M. Jenkins Elementary, Hickory City Schools; Southwest Region: Gloria Schwartz, Matthews Elementary, Charlotte/Mecklenburg Schools; Sandhills/South Central Region: Kim Brown, Scotland Accelerated Academy, Scotland County Schools; Piedmont-Triad/Central Region: Susan Poindexter, Jefferson Elementary, Guilford County Schools; and West Region: Sally Hundley, Waynesville Middle, Haywood County Schools. Each regional finalist will receive a one-time $5,000 stipend.

For additional information, please contact Dan Holloman, Center for Recruitment and Retention, 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.