Duplin's top teacher, principal honored
By Catharin Shepard
Published in News on March 21, 2010 1:50 AM
KENANSVILLE -- As Duplin County Teacher of the Year Selina Riley-Gurganus watched eager students walk to the podium Tuesday night to receive their own special recognitions, her heart tightened a little.
It's what the East Duplin High School teacher called a "parent's heart" -- the sense of love and pride that parents have when they see their children succeed.
And it's something that the award-winning teacher feels, too.
"In education, you have to have a mother's heart, or let me just say a parent's heart. ... Mothers and fathers motivate their young people, they allow them opportunities to dream. Even for those young people who do not see hope beyond their school lives, they provide opportunities and offer pathways to allow these dreams, and also pathways to help them achieve their dreams," she said.
Mrs. Riley-Gurganus was one of more than a dozen teachers honored at the Duplin County Education Foundation's recognition ceremony for teachers and principal of the year and students of the month. The ceremony at the Duplin Commons building was a chance for the families, friends and coworkers to support the winners and celebrate their achievements.
Even if, like Mrs. Riley-Gurganus, the winners were modest about their accomplishments.
"It truly has been a humbling experience. When people have approached me to congratulate me, I almost just want to do like a turtle, 'Thank you, thank you!'" she said, ducking behind the podium.
The teacher said she was honored to receive the recognition, "because I know, and I work with such fine teachers every single day, who are in the trenches and reach out to all the young people in the county."
Mrs. Riley-Gurganus said she strives to learn the latest innovations in teaching to help sharpen her own skills in order to pass the benefits of that expertise along to her students.
"The whole purpose of that was not to improve me so much, but for the betterment of the young person," she said.
Duplin County Education Foundation President Lynn Herring presented welcoming remarks, while Veronica Stevens gave the invocation and Vice President Joann Stroud recognized the special guests.
Board of Education members, Chairman Reginald Kenan and school system Superintendent Dr. Wiley Doby attended the ceremony to support the teachers and students. County Commissioner Frances Parks also attended.
Warsaw Elementary Principal Daren Tyndall was recognized as Duplin County Principal of the Year for 2010-11.
Teachers Christi MacLeod of B.F. Grady Elementary, Kristie R. Lanier of Beaulaville Elementary, Cynthia M. Rhodes of Charity Middle School, Brett Lanier of Chinquapin Elementary School, Doris Gunter of E.E. Smith Middle School, Brian Nagel of James Kenan High School, Jo Ellen Boone of Kenansville Elementary, Robin Massey of North Duplin Elementary, Michael Mozingo of Rose Hill-Magnolia Elementary, Rubenia Graham of Wallace Elementary, Monte Thorne of Wallace-Rose Hill High and Regina Sherrod of Warsaw Elementary were recognized as Teachers of the Year for their individual schools.
Students Amaya Sloan of Kenansville Elementary, Beyonce Kisto of Warsaw Elementary, Ariah Cooper of Wallace Elementary, Trevor McCloud of Beulaville Elementary, Kacey Thigpen of Beaulaville Elementary, Steven Scott of Charity Middle School, James Scallan of Duplin Early College and J.T. Cozart of James Kenan High School were honored as Student of the Month for their respective schools. The ceremony also recognized the members of the North Duplin Elementary Battle of the Books county-wide champion team, including Alyssa Best, Ethan Brock, Javier Eriza, Mikayla Koch, Kady Lupper, Hannah Smith, Elizabeth Thornton and Casy Whitted.
Both the Principal of the Year and the Teacher of the Year received gifts from Duplin County businesses, including items from Pizza Village, Pink Monkey, Mama G's, Westwater Hams, P.J.'s, Farrior's, Sears, Evans Jewelers, The Country Squire, Creative Touch Nails and Tanning and many others.