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NEWS RELEASES 2008-09 :: JANUARY 14, 2009


Cindi Rigsbee, a sixth/seventh grades reading resource teacher at Gravelly Hill Middle School, Orange County Public Schools, today was selected one of four finalists for the 2009 National Teacher of the Year. Rigsbee is currently serving as North Carolina's 2008-09 AT&T North Carolina Teacher of the Year.

Rigsbee said she was both "humbled and honored" to be named a national finalist. "When I was named the North Carolina Teacher of the Year, I spoke about 'chances.' I talked about teachers who give students with very little hope for a bright future a chance to grow up and be productive, happy citizens. And I thanked the teachers of North Carolina for giving me a chance to be a 'voice for educators' across our state. I am humbled and honored beyond words for this, my next chance to represent the amazing teachers in our state."

State Superintendent June Atkinson said she is thrilled Rigsbee was selected as a finalist for the 2009 National Teacher of the Year. "What an incredible tribute to Cindi and North Carolina public school teachers. Teachers across the nation could not have a better representative to speak on their behalf and on the importance of teachers to our future," Atkinson said.

In naming the finalists, the Council of Chief State School Officers' (CCSSO) Executive Director Gene Wilhoit said, "We at CCSSO know that the responsibility of ensuring student learning falls squarely on the shoulders of the teacher and any of these four finalists will ably carry the message of learning to the American people as the 2009 National Teacher of the Year."

Rigsbee has been a North Carolina public school teacher since the 1979-80 school year and has taught in five different North Carolina public school systems: Guilford County Schools, Vance County Schools, Wake County Schools, Durham Public Schools and Orange County Schools. She is a member of the National Education Association, the North Carolina Association of Educators (NCAE), the Orange County Association of Educators, the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development, the International Reading Association, and the North Carolina Reading Association.

In addition to her work in the classroom, Rigsbee has made presentations at numerous education workshops, conferences and other events. She was named the 2007-08 Orange County Schools’ Teacher of the Year, and a 2005 finalist for the Terry Sanford Award for Creativity and Innovation in Teaching.

Rigsbee received a Bachelor of Arts in English Education and a Master of Education/K-12 Literacy from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. In 2004, she achieved National Board Certification.

The National Teacher of the Year program began in 1952 and is the oldest, most prestigious national honors program to focus attention on teaching excellence. The program is a project of the CCSSO and is sponsored by the ING Foundation. The National Teacher of the Year is released from classroom duties during his/her recognition year to travel nationally and internationally and serve as a spokesperson for the teaching profession.

A panel of educators representing the 15 largest national education organizations chose the finalists and will select the 2009 National Teacher of the Year. President-elect Barack Obama will recognize the national honoree and the state representatives at a ceremony tentatively scheduled for the week of April 27-May 1.

For more information on the CCSSO and the National Teacher of the Year Program, visit Additional information on the ING Foundation is available online at For more information on the AT&T North Carolina Teacher of the Year program, please contact the NCDPI's Communications division at 919.807.3450.

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.