10/07/05 — Wayne County teacher earns state math honor

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Wayne County teacher earns state math honor

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on October 7, 2005 1:50 PM

It isn't hard for Tracy Wilson Thomas to recall being a second-grader in Room 24 of Meadow Lane Elementary School. That's because she returns there every day, now as a teacher.

"I always wanted to work here," she said. "It felt like it was home."

Meadow Lane was her first choice of a school when she returned to Wayne County looking for a job.

"I had other options but kept holding out for Meadow Lane," she said. "My heart was here."

When she was first hired there five years ago, she inherited more than a familiar classroom.

"Ruby Boyette was my teacher assistant," she said. "She had been the teacher assistant when I was a student here." Although Mrs. Boyette has since retired, Mrs. Thomas has still had the comforts of home in other ways. Both her mother and grandmother also work at the school.

Mom Wanda Wilson is a teacher assistant in a kindergarten class, while grandmother Edna Newsome works in the cafeteria.

"It was a nice bonus that family worked here," said Mrs. Thomas, who has been at the school for 21 years.

And even though Mrs. Newsome retires next month, Mrs. Wilson said, "It's fun being able to see your family every day and stay in close contact."

The two matriarchs were made even more proud this week when Mrs. Thomas was named Wayne County Public Schools 2005-06 Outstanding Elementary School Mathematics Teacher. The award is given annually by the N.C. Council of Teachers of Mathematics to the K-5 teacher who best succeeds in motivating students to excel in math.

Principal Celia James called Mrs. Thomas a very enthusiastic and energetic teacher.

"She loves what she does, and she is just a strong example for students," she said. "I think she is certainly the type of teacher that everyone is searching for for their child."

Mrs. Thomas was previously recognized as the school's Beginning Teacher of the Year, Mrs. James said.

Last year, she became a lead teacher with the North Carolina Partnership for Improving Mathematics and Science Program, or PIMS. In that role, she is required to deliver staff development to other teachers to improve math instruction. She will also attend leadership training and take a number of graduate level math courses.

As outstanding math teacher for the school system, she receives a one-year membership in the N.C. Council of Teachers of Mathematics. She will be recognized and receive a personalized award at the state conference in Greensboro on Oct. 14.

She is a summa cum laude graduate of the University of North Carolina at Wilmington, where she received her bachelor's degree in elementary education. She is married to Ben Thomas.