NEWS RELEASES 2014-15 :: APRIL 7, 2015


Ashe County High School English teacher Keana Triplett today was named the 2015 Burroughs Wellcome Fund North Carolina Teacher of the Year. The Ashe County Public Schools' teacher succeeds James E. Ford, a World History teacher at Garinger High School (Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools).

In announcing this year's recipient, State Superintendent June Atkinson said Triplett finds her teaching rewards in the success of her students. "Keana wants to be the catalyst for her students' success in life. By getting to know her students individually, she is able to meet them where they are and lead them to where they want to go."

Atkinson also thanked Burroughs Wellcome Fund for its continued sponsorship of the North Carolina Teacher of the Year program. "There are so many incredible teachers in classrooms across the state changing lives of students on a daily basis. The Burroughs Wellcome Fund enables us to recognize the best in our public school classrooms."

State Board of Education Chairman Bill Cobey also congratulated Triplett on her selection saying, "Great teachers can inspire our youth to pursue one of the most noble professions in the world: teaching. This was the case with Keana. I'm confident that she will inspire others to follow in her footsteps."

Dr. John Burris, president of Burroughs Wellcome Fund, said, "The Burroughs Wellcome Fund remains committed to helping provide the young people of North Carolina with the best possible education. Teachers play the key role in that education, and we are proud to recognize the North Carolina Teacher of the Year and all her dedicated professional colleagues."

In accepting the award, Triplett said she wants her greatest contribution as an educator to be "showing students they are loved, valued and worthy." She said, "Outstanding teachers know their students. They understand how each student learns and responds appropriately. They set high expectations then provide challenging, rigorous and relevant learning activities so students are engaged learners - not apathetic learners."

Triplett has spent her entire teaching career at Ashe County High School. Since 2005, she has taught 9th, 10th and 12th grade English. She is chair of Ashe County High School's Writing Committee and a member of the school's Literacy Committee. She also is a Senior Conference Presenter for the Appalachian Community of Educators Society, a Teaching Fellows Advisory Council member for Appalachian Educators and a Cooperating Teacher for Appalachian State University student teachers.

She is the North Carolina Region 7 Teacher of the Year for 2014-15, and Ashe County Schools' Teacher of the Year as well as Ashe County High School Teacher of the Year for 2014-15. She is a two-time grant recipient having received the Ashe County Schools' Endowment Grant in 2010 and the Blue Ridge Electric Bright Ideas Grant in 2009.

A North Carolina Teaching Fellows graduate, Triplett earned a bachelor's degree in Secondary English Education in 2005 and a master's degree in Educational Technology in December 2012 both from Appalachian State University. In 2014, she achieved National Board Certification in English/Language Arts.

As Burroughs Wellcome Fund North Carolina Teacher of the Year, Triplett will spend the next school year traveling the state as an ambassador for the teaching profession.

She will receive the use of a state vehicle for one year, a one-year leased vehicle from Flow Automotive, LLC, the opportunity to attend a seminar at the NC Center for the Advancement of Teaching (NCCAT), a mobile device from Lenovo valued at approximately $1,600, an engraved vase, a one-time cash award of $7,500, a trip to the National Teacher of the Year Conference and International Space Camp, the opportunity to travel abroad through an endowment through the North Carolina Center for International Understanding, and a technology package valued at more than $11,000 from SMART Technologies.

She also will serve as an advisor to the State Board of Education for two years and as a board member for the NC Public School Forum for one year. In addition, the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction will sponsor her enrollment and completion of the Education Policy Fellowship Program.

The other regional finalists were:

  • Region 1: Jami Dickerson, Eastern Elementary (Pitt County Schools);
  • Region 2: Joshua Gaskill, Pamlico County High (Pamlico County Schools);
  • Region 3: Jeremy Tucker, James B. Hunt High (Wilson County Schools);
  • Region 4: Mariel Barker Sellars, East Columbus High (Columbus County Schools);
  • Region 5: JoAnna Massoth, Chatham Middle (Chatham County Schools);
  • Region 6: Jennifer Whitley, Forest Hills High (Union County Schools);
  • Region 8: Randy Pressley, Tuscola High (Haywood County Schools); and
  • Charter Schools: Elizabeth Padgett, Lake Norman Charter (Mecklenburg County).

North Carolina has recognized outstanding teachers through its Teacher of the Year program since 1970. For more information on North Carolina's Teacher of the Year recognition program, visit You also can follow the North Carolina Teacher of the Year finalists on Twitter at #NCTOYPOY.

About the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction:
The North Carolina Department of Public Instruction provides leadership to 115 local public school districts and 160 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.