On Monday, April 24th, schools in Mount Airy City Schools announced their 2023-2024 Teachers of the Year and Employees of the Year while the district named its Beginning Teacher of the Year, Bus Driver of the Year, Central Office Employee of the Year, Career and Technical Education (CTE) Teacher of the Year, Exceptional Children's (EC) Teacher of the Year, School Nutrition Employee of the Year and Manager of the Year.
District and school leaders came together to form the Prize Patrol that surprised each employee with exciting news and beautiful flowers. Students and peers alike joined in on the moments and helped celebrate these deserving individuals.
The day started off at the Community Central Office where Bus Driver of the Year Benny Brannock was surprised by the awaiting crowd. Upon entering the building, Brannock was met with cheers and congratulations.
Transportation Coordinator Jon Doss shared, “Benny is very dependable. He cares about the students he transports and is always willing to help out. He can be found driving for field trips, after school programming, routes, and even athletic teams.”
The Community Central Office Employee of the Year is Christina Rakes, the district’s technology specialist.
Rake’s peers note, “Christina is constantly on call and always willing to help problem-solve and troubleshoot technology with us. Her positive attitude and willingness to help out makes her quite approachable. We appreciate her kindness and expertise!”
B.H. Tharrington Primary (BHT) named first-grade teacher Farleys Barraza as its Teacher of the Year and front office staff member Yamil Santiago as Employee of the Year. The Exceptional Children’s (EC) Department announced that Lynn Brown, speech pathologist, was the district’s EC Teacher of the Year. Additionally, Carolyn Boggs, cafeteria manager, was named School Nutrition Manager of the Year.
Barraza’s nominator noted, “Barraza is an exceptional teacher. She is devoted to her students and does not waste a minute of instructional time. She also enjoys helping her colleagues by sharing what she knows; she’s an excellent team player.”
Santiago’s nomination included, “Yamil not only does her job as data manager well, she has also been a solid support to the staff and new finance officer. She handles changes wonderfully and is always willing to help wherever assistance is needed. She is a comfort to staff and parents alike with her friendliness and professionalism.”
Brown’s nomination stated, “Lynn has proven to be an invaluable member of our team and is devoted to meeting the needs of her students. Lynn is always eager to learn new methodologies and strives to explore all avenues to provide the highest level of service possible. She continually looks for ways to improve her practice and provide an inclusive setting for all individuals she works with.”
School Nutrition Director Celena Watson shared, “Cookie is a wonderful school nutrition manager and works extremely hard to feed and nourish the children at BHT. She is a great leader and has a huge heart for students. She also leads our summer feeding program. We are blessed to have her on our team!”
J.J. Jones Intermediate School named third-grade teacher Elaine Reales as Teacher of the Year and EC teaching assistant Dennis Moore as Employee of the Year.
Reales’ nomination stated, “Elaine has impacted our school significantly through her positive energy and passion for creating the best community possible for our school. In addition to raising the bar academically for her students, she is involved with multiple efforts that impact the larger community. She is a passionate and exceptionally driven teacher.”
Moore’s nominator wrote, “Dennis is dedicated, patient, and kind. This year, he took on additional responsibilities to ensure that the students remained top priority. Dennis believes in giving back to others because he feels he has been greatly blessed in life. He is an asset to our school and a champion for his students!”
Mount Airy Middle School named eighth-grade teacher Katie McCrary as Teacher of the Year and EC teaching assistant Mary Ellen Graham as Employee of the Year.
McCrary’s nomination shared, “She is a great team player, contributing to not only the needs of the 8th grade but of the whole school. She seeks to find solutions to every situation and communicates effectively. Her knowledge of teaching and learning makes her a leader in her classroom, grade level, and our school.”
Graham’s peers noted, “Mary Ellen goes above and beyond when it comes to helping the students and the entire staff. She works to build relationships with the students she serves. She has been a key part of their growth and achievement this year. She is also supportive of the team and we could not make it without her.”
Mount Airy High School named history teacher Jesse Hiatt as its Teacher of the Year and data manager Caitlin Frazier as Employee of the Year. The district name Nick Tirpak its District Beginning Teacher of the Year while School Nutrition named Steve Hughes Employee of the Year. Health sciences teacher Lynn Snow was named the district’s CTE Teacher of the Year.
Hiatt’s peers shared, “Jesse is not only dedicated to providing his students the best learning experience, he can be found at school events and at school on holidays and workdays, brightening any room he walks into. Jesse develops and maintains relationships with his students, and his fearless and positive attitude is infectious. His selfless attitude and work ethic make him the true embodiment of a role model/perfect example of Teacher of the Year for Mount Airy High School.”
Frazier’s nominator noted, “My students always forget their logins for Schoolnet and Caitlin is always gracious to help us out on test day. She is quick to pick up areas in the office when others are out to ensure that things continue to run smoothly. She takes the busy environment of the office in stride and that says a lot about her character. We are lucky to have her!”
Supporters of beginning teachers shared, “Nick Tirpak positively represents our teginning teacher support program as a first year teacher. As an early educator, Mr. Tirpak strives to advocate for his students and our amazing band program. We are grateful to have him as a member of our MACS family that supports our awesome STEAM framework everyday!”
Watson shared that, “Steve has always been a team player and helps others when needed without being asked. He shows love and kindness toward all the students and staff. He is a huge asset to our school nutrition team.”
Snow’s colleagues shared, “Lynn has had many years of service to the district and HOSA. She encourages each student to chase their dreams! She has high expectations in her class room and shows students they can rise to the occasion! Over the past several years, she has been the competitive events director and has put in hundreds of hours to make sure the regional and state HOSA competitions are successful. Lynn Snow is an amazing person and educator!
In a surprise fashion in March, Principal Levi Goins learned that he earned Principal of the Year as he was surrounded by students, staff, and family.
Morrison stated, “Mr. Goins’ first year as principal was in the middle of COVID and he led Mount Airy Middle School through a challenging time and came out on top. We appreciate his hard work and ability to inspire his students and staff to excellence.”
The district looks forward to celebrating these individuals at the End-of-Year Picnic and at a school board meeting in the fall. The Mount Airy City Schools Teacher of the Year will be announced at the picnic and speak at Convocation in front of their peers.