08/13/04 — Allen named Teacher of the Year

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Allen named Teacher of the Year

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on August 13, 2004 2:00 PM

A Southern Wayne High School math teacher has been named the county's Teacher of the Year.

Freda J. Allen, a National Board certified teacher, has been at Southern Wayne for eight years. She was also the 2004 Coca-Cola Distinguished Educator of the Year.

"To God be the glory, great things He has done!" Ms. Allen exclaimed as she reached the microphone to accept the honor.

Dr. Steve Taylor and Freda Allen

News-Argus/Phyllis Moore

Dr. Steve Taylor, schools superintendent, congratulates Teacher of the Year Freda Allen from Southern Wayne High School.

She thanked her mother and sister, who came with her to the ceremony Thursday, then applauded any of her former teachers who were in the audience.

"You know that I am here because of what you have done for me," she said.

She also acknowledged relatives, her church and especially her students for her success.

"My task to educate students is a serious one and one that I value greatly," she wrote in her application. "I go to work each day for my students. I am in this special place in my life because of them."

Dr. Steven Taylor, superintendent of Wayne County public schools, announced the selection during the annual Teacher of the Year banquet Thursday night at Walnut Creek Country Club.

He summed up the evening as an opportunity to promote the profession of education and honor teachers: "the shining stars."

"Like the commercial that Chevrolet is the 'heartbeat of America,' in my opinion teachers are the heartbeat of education," he said. "Teachers have thousands of people who remember them for the rest of their lives."

Ms. Allen has taught a variety of math courses including algebra, geometry, advanced mathematics and advanced-placement calculus.

She was one of three finalists narrowed down from the field of 31 teachers representing each of the public schools. Each school selected its own teacher of the year, and the pool was then whittled down to one each from the elementary, middle and high school levels.

Marion Carter, a technology teacher at Mount Olive Middle School for eight years, was the middle school representative. Karen Morgan, a third-grade teacher at Carver Elementary School, was the top contender from the elementary level.

All of the final three received a $5,000 Twiford Travel Grant to be used to travel to a destination of their choosing. Ms. Allen also received a $1,500 gift from the school system and now advances to competition at the regional level.

Cathie Hooks, a fifth-grade teacher at Tommy's Road Elementary School who was 2002-2003 county and regional teacher of the year, spoke about her travel experiences as a former recipient of the grant.

"The award was a life-changing event for me," she said. "It also changed my view of the world."

For 11 days, she traveled through France, the French Riviera, Italy and Switzerland, places she said she had only seen in books.

"The view was a continuous postcard," she said. "And I was able to bring it all back to Room 409 of Tommy's Road Elementary."

The Goldsboro Rotary Club established the travel award in memory of Mr. and Mrs. C.W. Twiford, former educators in Goldsboro city schools. Bill Kemp, former county school board member, is also credited with working diligently to solicit support from the community for the award.

"He truly believes that global travel provides life-altering experiences and can greatly enhance teaching in the classroom," said Olivia Pierce, executive director for community relations with the school system.

She said that since its inception in 1995, more than $200,000 has been contributed toward the program and 36 teachers so far have taken advantage of the opportunity.

Lettye Clark, last year's Wayne Teacher of the Year, also spoke during the banquet. She said one of the first things teachers learn is that they are not in it just to win the honor of Teacher of the Year.

"Every honoree went into the classroom to try to make a difference in the lives of children," she said.

The Goldsboro High School math teacher said the biggest lesson she has learned along the way has been how powerful teaching is.

"I have heard presidents, engineers, doctors," she said. "All have expressed that they got where they were because of some teachers in their life.

"I don't believe any other profession can say that; I believe that's exclusive for teachers."