By: Grant Merritt, The News Reporter
Columbus County Schools honored 17 teachers and three principals at the Teacher of the Year and Principal of the Year Banquet Tuesday evening at Vineland Station. Georgia Spaulding, principal of Evergreen Elementary School, and Anna Slaughter, band teacher at Acme Delco Middle and Hallsboro Middle schools received the top honors.
“What you have here is a sample of some of the best school administrators in the state of North Carolina,” said interim Superintendent Jonathan Williams as the principals made their way to the front of the room. “And I really say that with sincerity because I really mean that. These are wonderful people.”
He was equally complimentary of the teachers in the room.
“Once again, we’ve got a fine group of educators in our school system,” Williams said as the teacher nominees stood at the front. “When you go to their classrooms, you can tell that these teachers want to be there, and you would certainly want your child in their class.”
“You all have been wonderful,” Spaulding said to her colleagues gathered for the banquet. “I’ve worked with some awesome educators, and I try to remember that we do it for the children.”
Spaulding said that principals don’t do their job for the recognition. They do it for the love of the children, she explained.
Slaughter, who is early in her career, said she was shocked to receive the award.
“This is the last thing I ever expected,” she said. “Goodness gracious, I’m a fourth year teacher.”
Slaughter wanted to thank everyone for their support and especially her students.
“Just like Ms. Spaulding said, we’re here for the kids,” Slaughter said during her acceptance speech. “And Mr. Kelly Jones, you have kept me here, and you have kept me sane more times than I can count,” Spaulding added, referring to the district’s arts coordinator.
Principals and teachers nominated their peers for the awards, and an outside selection committee picked the winners. The committee included Ashley Hinson of Sandhills Regional Education Consortium, Donyell Roseboro of UNC Wilmington and Bess Shuler of Richmond County Schools. Roseboro was the only judge able to attend the banquet.
“You all are so talented and amazing, and it was an honor to read your work,” Roseboro said. “To see what all of you are doing with our young people, you inspire us.”
Principal of the Year nominees were Wendell Duncan of Nakina Middle School and Terry Brown of Tabor City Elementary School. Teacher of the Year nominees were Herman Bland of Acme Delco Elementary School, Marlene Capps of Cerro Gordo Elementary School, Antoinette Evans of Chadbourn Elementary School, Adrienne Evans of Columbus Career and College Academy, Christina Holland of East Columbus High School, Erika Jackson of Evergreen Elementary School, Rod Gore of Guideway Elementary School, Robin Reaves of Hallsboro-Artesia Elementary School, Jason Nance of Hallsboro Middle School, Heather Register of Nakina Middle School, Brittany Ward of Old Dock Elementary School, Shonna Gurkin of South Columbus High School, Jeff Brown of Tabor City Elementary School, Marylin Elliot of Tabor City Middle School, Marc Edge of West Columbus High School and Leigh Ann McPherson of Williams Township School.
Chef Sherman Axelburg and her culinary students of Columbus Career and College Academy provided the meal at the banquet.
Award sponsors were 2 Broke Teachers, BB&T, Brunswick Electric Membership Corporation, Collier’s Jewelers Inc., Columbus County Schools, DD Cox Agency, Dales Seafood of Whiteville, First Bank, First Citizens Bank Fuller Royal Photography, Pizza Village and Yam City Oil.