05/15/08 — Teacher's talent touted

View Archive

Teacher's talent touted

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on May 15, 2008 2:03 PM

A second-grade teacher from Michigan has been named the 2008 Beginning Teacher of the Year for Wayne County Public Schools.

Maggie Keaner moved to Wayne County to be a teacher at Northwest Elementary School.

Although she came knowing no one, she quickly became a part of the school's family, said her principal, Theresa Cox.

"Ms. Keaner has proven to be a true asset to our school because of her positive attitude and willingness to do whatever is asked of her," she said. "She definitely has a passion for her children, and does whatever she has to do with a smile."

The first-year educator's journey to North Carolina came about because there were not a lot of teaching jobs available in her home state.

"Michigan is the fourth highest paid state for teachers," Ms. Keaner said. "So if you get a job there, you keep it."

During her search and visits to job fairs, North Carolina was among the other states represented. She also had a friend who had taken a job in Wayne County who spoke positively of the situation here.

"I thought, 'I'm young, I don't have anything tying me down.' So I didn't even apply in Michigan," said the 25-year-old.

Her boyfriend, Casey Williams, also gave up his job to move here, she added. He is now a technology assistant at Northwest.

"It's been an absolutely wonderful experience," Ms. Keaner said. "It's just the place for me. It's exactly where I need to be."

And with this award from the school system, it's like a confirmation, she said.

"I really feel I have chosen the right career for me," she said. "It was hard work. It's been more work that I expected it would be, but in the end it turned out to be the most rewarding.

"I'm so happy to come in here every day."

Administrators chose Ms. Keaner from a pool of 32 individual beginning teachers of the year from around the county. Criteria for the judges included interaction with students, relationships with colleagues, parents and the community, and instructional skills that enhance learning and success in the classroom.

The honor was decided long ago as a way to recognize and encourage those starting out in the teaching field. It's proven to be an important effort, said Dr. Steven Taylor, schools superintendent.

"Their first few years in the classroom can be some of the most exciting but challenging times in their career," he said. "This award is a great way to let our new teachers know how much we appreciate them, and the job they do each day to help improve the quality of education for our students."

Along with the recognition, Ms. Keaner will receive a $500 check and a laptop computer. The two finalists, Lorrie Kester of Norwayne Middle and Trelvia Thompson of Goldsboro High will each receive a $250 check.