Beginning my journey as the North Carolina Teacher of the Year, I was amazed at how many opportunities were presented to me. The first of many was the opportunity to attend NCCAT in Ocracoke for a week. I literally loaded up a colleague and left my house at 5:30 A.M. to treck across our great state to spend a week of professional development with educators I knew and many I did not.
As I am usually transparent, I will continue to be as such with you and let you know that the dread had overtaken me for a season. Worry, fear, and uncertainty gripped me for most of May and June. I just did not know what to make of this new role. As an English teacher, travel logs and reimbursement forms are things of my nightmares. To think I would be consistently calculating almost had me in hives! However, as the waves found their way onto the Ocracoke Island shore from the Pamlico Sound on June 22, 2015, I began to transform my worry and fear into hope and excitement. The North Carolina Center for the Advancement of Teaching (NCCAT) at Ocracoke is where I found my rejuvenation and inspiration for the coming year.
Throughout the week, I formed relationships with educators and learned that we all truly were in the same "boat" whether we were in Raleigh, Asheville, or even Maine! Regardless of where we found ourselves in our professions, one thing rang true for each of us: our LOVE for our profession. In working with the United State Coast Guard stationed in Hatteras, we learned that many are doing "less with more" and not being negative about it. They are fighting for their needs, yet they know their calling is as important today as it will be tomorrow. I found great comfort in that. It is amazing how little we realize about our own perspectives until we look closely at others. The importance of my position as the NC TOY became apparent during our mapping session and tour of the Coast Guard station. Teachers need a positive voice encouraging us to keep meeting the needs of our students and giving our best every day. I am that voice this year, and I hope to inspire my colleagues as I was inspired at NCCAT.
North Carolina Educators: If you haven't utilized the professional development opportunities at NCCAT, make this year the year you do! It is well worth the sacrifice of your time and travel to be rejuvenated in your profession.
Below is a picture of our group of teacher leaders. I cannot wait to see where this year takes these incredible educators!