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District crowns its top teachers

Educators 'represent excellence,' school chief says

POSTED: January 9, 2013 12:32 a.m.
Jim Dean/

Big Creek Elementary teacher Courtney Stokes is surprised Tuesday by school officials. Stokes has been named elementary level teacher of the year.

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The three educators named Forsyth County 2013 Teacher of the Year at the elementary, middle and high school levels each said they were overwhelmed by the honor.

Courtney Stokes, Liz Watterson and Nick Crowder were also surprised when Forsyth County School Superintendent Buster Evans and an entourage of officials visited their classrooms Tuesday morning to announce the news.

“With nearly 2,500 teachers in the system, all of them are so deserving of the recognition, but to honor these three finalists is the highlight of the year for us,” said Forsyth County Schools Superintendent Buster Evans, “They represent excellence in all classrooms in this district … so it’s fun to see them and their excitement.”

One of the three teachers will be named the county’s top teacher Feb. 15 and go on to represent the district at the state level.

Crowder, a technology and engineering teacher at South Forsyth High, said he never thought he’d receive such a prestigious honor when he began teaching in 2001.

“To have my job here, to be privileged enough to work with the young people of Forsyth County every day is enough of a reward,” he said.

“That my colleagues thought enough of me to nominate me, I thought ‘Wow, what an honor,’ and that was at the school level. So to go on to be evaluated by other professionals, I’m just overwhelmed.”

The same is true for math teacher Watterson, now in her eighth year at South Forsyth Middle.

“I work in a great school system, with great co-workers, great students with a great administration, I couldn’t have a better spot,” she said. “I work hard, but I feel like I do what I need to do and I just try my best. So to be recognized just feels really nice.”

It’s just Stokes’ third year at Big Creek Elementary, but the second-grade teacher has made a quick impression.

“I’m touched beyond words,” she said. “It’s an acknowledgement of a lot of hard work and a lot of love for what I do. I couldn’t be here without the school support and my teammates who are remarkable, truly.”

At each stop, Evans reminded the finalists about the competition they faced to earn the coveted spot. The school district has about 800 teachers in high school, 600 for middle school and 1,600 in elementary.

“In Forsyth County, there are so many great teachers in every school,” Evans said. “This is a process where we can honor the people who make a difference for our kids.”


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