On May 6, Wayne County Public Schools will hold a virtual celebration to honor the district’s 2021 Teacher of the Year, Assistant Principal, and Principal of the Year. With the first round of interviews complete, finalists for the Teacher of the Year, Assistant Principal and Principal of the Year programs have been named – one each from the elementary, middle, and high school level. They include:
Teacher of the Year – Finalists
Assistant Principal of the Year - Finalists
Christy G. Straughan-Haley
Grantham Elementary & Grantham Middle
Southern Wayne High
Principal of the Year - Finalists
Wayne Early Middle College High
Teacher of the Year Finalists
Susan Long, has 14 years of education service and has served at Grantham Elementary since 2007. Stephanie Gall has four years of education service and has served at Brogden Middle since 2017. Patricia Velasco has 31 years education service, 15 with WCPS, and has served at Goldsboro High since 2006.
Assistant Principal of the Year Finalists
Christy G. Straughan-Haley has 28 years of education service, transitioning to school administration in 2013. Straughan-Haley has been the assistant principal of Grantham Elementary and Grantham Middle since August 2020. Laura Kester has 14 years of education service, transitioning to school administration in 2018. Kester has been an assistant principal at Norwayne Middle since 2018. Michael Jones has 17 years education service, transitioning to school administration in 2016. Jones holds a National Board Certification has been an assistant principal at Southern Wayne High since 2019.
Principal of the Year Finalists
Julie West has 28 years of education service, transitioning to school administration in 2012. West has been principal of Northeast Elementary since 2016. Damesha Smith has 18 years of education service, transitioning to school administration in 2012. Smith has been principal of Brogden Middle since 2016. Freda Allen has 25 years of education service, transitioning to school administration in 2011. Allen holds a National Board Certification and has served as principal of Wayne Early/Middle College High since 2016.
The district’s 2021 Teacher of the Year, Assistant Principal of the Year and Principal of the Year will be announced at a virtual celebration on May 6 at 4 PM. The event will be streamed via the district’s WCPS Live youtube channel. The district’s Teacher of the Year program is part of the state and national Teacher of the Year program. Each candidate is first named a Teacher of the Year at their school. Like the Assistant Principal and Principal of the Year programs, a selection committee interviews each school’s candidate to determine the district finalists. A follow-up interview of each finalist will help determine who is named the WCPS Teacher of the Year.
The Principal of the Year and Assistant Principal of the Year programs are facilitated through the district’s Human Resources Department and the Wayne County Principals and Assistant Principals Association (WCPAPA). Both the WCPS Teacher of the Year and Principal of the Year will move on to a regional competition, which is the next stage of the state-level competitions.
Below is the complete list of each school-level Teacher of the Year selected to represent their school in the coming school year:
Teacher of the Year
Carver Heights Elementary
Charles B. Aycock High
Eastern Wayne Elementary
Eastern Wayne High
Eastern Wayne Middle
Edgewood Community Developmental School
Meadow Lane Elementary
Mount Olive Middle
North Drive Elementary
Southern Wayne High
Spring Creek Elementary
Spring Creek High
Spring Creek Middle
Tommy’s Road Elementary
Wayne Early/Middle College High
Wayne Middle/High Academy
Wayne School of Engineering