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WCPS celebrates excellence in education through district awards

On Tuesday evening, Wayne County Public Schools held a Celebration of Excellence at Lane Tree Conference Center to present its top staff awards. As part of the opening comments, Board of Education Chair, Don Christopher West, read a Teacher Appreciation Week proclamation approved by the Board on Monday evening.
Eastern Wayne High business, marketing, & computer science teacher, Julie Brown, was recognized as this year's WCPS High School CTE Teacher of the Year.  “She (Ms. Brown) has brought back life to CTE at our school by reactivating the school’s DECA chapter this year and gave her personal time to prepare students for regional and state competitions,” states Lee Johnson, EWH principal. “She adds rigor to all classes she teaches while remaining a lifelong learner to further motivate her students.”
 Mount Olive Middle technology teacher, Kevin Casto, was recognized as this year's WCPS Middle School CTE Teacher of the Year.  “He (Mr. Casto) always maintains a positive attitude with his students and creates engaging and innovative lessons for them,” states E.J. Cromartie, MOM principal. “He takes pride in helping to develop our leaders of tomorrow and guiding them to be better citizens of our community.”
Brogden Middle media coordinator, Jane Sasser, was recognized as this year's WCPS Media Coordinator of the Year. “She (Ms. Sasser) was awarded an internship during the summer of 2019 at The Library of Congress in Washington, D.C.,” states Cortrina Smith, student support facilitator. “She says that she continuously tries to expand her knowledge and that she enjoys sharing it with her fellow teachers and community members.”
 Northeast Elementary school counselor, Gina Sutton, was recognized as this year's WCPS School Counselor of the Year.  “Mrs. Sutton demonstrates dedication to her students, school staff and fellow school counselors through leadership at the school and district levels to ensure positive change for students in her school building and across the entire district,” states Stephanie Cummings, WCPS District Lead School Counselor & Wayne County School Counselors Association president.
 Greenwood Middle assistant principal, Thomas Earl Presley, was named the 2022-2023 WCPS Assistant Principal of the Year.    “As an AP, he successfully navigates the murky waters that exist between placating teachers, students, and parents when dealing with discipline issues,” states Connie Harrell, retired GWD principal. “Part of his strength as a leader is due to the fact that he knows the value of relationships and that those relationships transfer into success.”
 Norwayne Middle principal, Brian Weeks, was named the 2022-2023 WCPS Principal of the Year.    “Mr. Weeks stands out because he is flexible and he is an engaging leader with his staff and the school community,” stated Dr. Yvette Smith Mason, WCPS Assistant Superintendent for Human Resources & Professional Development. He displays the highest level of integrity, love, and dedication for educators and students.”
 Before starting the award program finale, Dr. Mason recognized the 32 school-level Teachers of the Year, with each receiving a special plaque from superintendent, Dr. David Lewis. Grantham Elementary music teacher, Jaime Cox was then named the 2022-2023 WCPS Teacher of the Year.  “I have always found her to be the quintessential professional, listening to others’ opinions with interest, offering suggestions based upon sound pedagogy, and demonstrating a sincere willingness to try new strategies,” states Tracy McKeel, GRA-E principal. “Earnestly caring for her fellow teachers and the students she serves is a strong and noticeable trait in her personality.”

 The district’s Teacher of the Year and the Principal of the Year are part of state and national awards programs. The WCPS Assistant Principal of the Year, CTE Teachers of the Year, School Counselor of the Year and Media Coordinator of the Year are district-level awards programs which represent WCPS locally. Each program has its own nomination and selection process. For the Teacher of the Year, Assistant Principal of the Year, and Principal of the Year programs, a district-level selection committee will interview each candidate to determine the district finalists. A follow-up interview of each finalist will then help determine who is named the “of the Year” for that program. Once named, 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.

 “I would like to extend my congratulations and appreciation to all of the award winners for their outstanding contributions to their school and our district,” states Dr. David Lewis, WCPS Superintendent. “Each of you have clearly demonstrated excellence in education, a proven commitment to your profession, and a strong dedication to helping find success at school and in life. You represent the very best in the education profession!”