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Bladen County Schools’ teacher among finalists for the NC Regional Teacher of the Year Award

Frederica Renee Steele, a seventh-grade social studies teacher at Elizabethtown Middle School and the 2019-2020 Bladen County Schools’ Teacher of the Year has been selected as one of two finalists for the North Carolina Regional Teacher of the Year. This is the first time that Bladen County Schools has had a regional finalist for teacher of the year.

Bladen County Schools is in Region IV along with 11 other school systems. In total, there are eight regions in the state of North Carolina.

Dr. Steele will represent Bladen County Schools and Elizabethtown Middle School during her interview and screening process in November conducted by NCDPI’s Regional Education Facilitators. NCDPI announces the regional teachers of the year in January.

“I really want my students to be able to be critical thinkers. And not only critical thinkers, but I also want them to be able to be problem solvers, who look at an issue and come up with a solution,” said Dr. Steele.

Dr. Steele considers herself a life-long learner and is always looking for ways to grow both personally and professionally. She is passionate, driven and dedicated to her students.

The goals of the North Carolina Teacher of the Year Program are:

• To recognize and honor teachers who have demonstrated outstanding leadership
and excellence in teaching
• To recruit quality and diverse cadre of teachers
• To model best practices in teaching
• To communicate and impact educational issues and policies
• To build effective partnerships
• To advance a communication network among teachers

Per national guidelines, North Carolina chooses a candidate who is “dedicated and highly skilled, a candidate has proven capable of inspiring students of all backgrounds and abilities to learn.” Because the State Teacher of the Year will be asked to travel, speak on behalf of education and demonstrate master teaching skills, the candidate must be poised, articulate, and energetic to meet the demanding responsibilities.

The NC Teacher of the Year is recognized at the school, regional, and statewide levels. First, the teacher is chosen to represent their respective school as Teacher of the Year.

Similarly, individual public charter schools nominate a Teacher of the Year who
participates in a selection process facilitated by the Office of Charter Schools at the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction. Next, once each school district and the charter school nomination processes are completed, the teacher finalists vie as one of the state’s nine Regional Teachers of the Year. [The state is divided into eight geographical regions and NC Charter Schools are clustered together to form the ninth region of the state. The Charter School Teacher of the Year joins the Regional Teachers of the Year team as a finalist for the state Teacher of the Year]. This selection process is facilitated in each region by Regional Education Facilitators.

After a series of relevant screening activities, a committee consisting of professional educators as well as business and community leaders chooses the State Teacher of the Year. The state selection committee members are chosen based on their dynamic public record in support of education. The State Teacher of the Year and the other Regional Finalists form a collaborative network to provide services and support throughout the state on critical issues facing public education. The North Carolina Department of Public Instruction and the State Board of Education take pride in celebrating the most
innovative and effective public school educators in our state.

Since the inception of the program in North Carolina in 1970, three State Teachers of the Year have become National winners. Four have become National Finalists and one has been inducted into the National Teachers’ Hall of Fame.

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