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Spain, Messner, Norris named Middlesex Teachers of the Year

Spain wins overall award

In celebration of National Teacher Appreciation Week, May 2-6, faculty and staff at each of the three Middlesex County schools recently honored Teachers of the Year, announced Middlesex Assistant School Superintendent Michael T. Cromartie on May 18.

Candidates were nominated and finalists selected by their colleagues at each school. This is the fourth consecutive year teachers have been awarded this distinction.

“The honor recognizes exemplary teaching service both in the classroom and within the school community and embodies teacher leadership and instructional innovation,” said Cromartie. “This year’s selections represent the many highly skilled and dedicated professionals who serve Middlesex County’s children each day.”

The Middlesex Teachers of the Year are Sara Spain at Middlesex Elementary School, Kate Messner at St. Clare Walker Middle School, and Danielle Norris at Middlesex High School.

On May 24 Cromartie said, “Each of our Teachers of the Year represents the very best in classroom leadership and they are each awesome ambassadors of their schools and the teaching profession. We are all honored to call these fine educators our colleagues. 

“While each of them is more than worthy to receive division-wide honors, only one can be selected to move on in statewide competition,” said Cromartie. “It is my honor to announce that Ms. Sara Spain was recognized this morning as our Division Teacher of the Year. Congratulations to all of our Teachers of the Year and special kudos to Ms. Spain!”

Middlesex Elementary School
Fourth-grade teacher Sara Spain has spent her entire 4-year teaching career at Middlesex Elementary School (MES). A native of Chesterfield, Sara currently calls Wake her home. The Radford University graduate believes her classroom should be a place of acceptance where each child feels welcome. She does this by actively listening to each student, allowing students choices, and promoting a sense of community within the classroom.

Sara said she believes teaching is a privilege citing, “Parents have entrusted us with loving, encouraging, and challenging their child. [Parents] can never get this time back, so [I] cherish those kiddos! Even the most challenging, who need it most.”

St. Clare Walker Middle School
Special education teacher Kate Messner’s 17-year career spans from Virginia to Hawaii with the last 3 years spent at St. Clare Walker Middle School. From West Lawn, Pa., Kate has lived in Hartfield for 11 years.

A graduate of East Stroudsburg University (B.A.) and Hampton University (M.Ed.), Ms. Messner believes, “Teaching is an ongoing process that involves interacting with others to gain knowledge that can be applied to real life situations. All have talents and abilities that can be shared and recognized beyond the boundaries of the school building. These don’t always equate to having the best grades. It is okay to struggle with academic tasks that are difficult, but it is not acceptable to not try.”

Middlesex High School
Originally from Gloucester, English teacher Danielle Norris has taught at Middlesex High School (MHS) for 8 years. She and her husband Brad and daughter Ella currently live in Wake.

The JMU graduate and ODU graduate student cites her favorite quote from Hafiz, a Sufi poet: “Even after all this time the Sun never says to the Earth, ‘You owe me.’ Look what happens with a love like that. It lights the whole sky.”

Danielle says, “Though this quote does not seem to be about education at all, it is how I live my life and is a large part of my educational philosophy. I believe that all students are capable of being successful; sometimes, they just need someone to support them and encourage them to find value in their own educational experiences in order to be successful.”

posted 05.25.2016

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