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Leah Carper
Leah Carper
Leah Carper

Two alumnae educators received Guilford County Schools’ highest honors last week.

KaTrinka Brown and Leah Carper were named Principal of the Year and Teacher of the Year, respectively.

Carper is an English teacher at Northern Guilford High School who received her bachelor’s degree in Secondary English Education from UNCG’s College of Arts and Sciences. During the pandemic, Carper turned to technology to engage students by creating a teaching Instagram account and a TikTok account, showing her students that teaching and learning can be fun.

She describes winning the award, especially during the pandemic, as completely humbling,

“Every teacher was stretched to their limits to overcome unimaginable odds, and seemingly insurmountable barriers to help students learn during the global pandemic. We reached through screens and masks to bring knowledge and light to our students. Many educators confess it was the hardest year they have experienced. Every teacher who taught through the pandemic deserves to be Teacher of the Year, so to receive the honor this year fills me with more gratitude than I could ever express. It is an award I will always cherish.”

KaTrinka Brown

Brown serves as the principal at Jackson Middle School and is currently pursuing her doctorate degree at UNCG. She was awarded for the impact she made during an unprecedented school year in which she focused on student support and mental health.

“I always try to see the full potential of my students. The pandemic has made it hard to know exactly who has access to the support they need, so I tell the teachers to build relationships with the students to get to know who they really are, what they need, and how to support them. And mental health is critical for both adults and children, so it’s been important for me to advocate not only for the students, but for the educators as well.”

She dedicates this honor to the teachers, students, and parents of Jacksonville Middle who have pushed through the pandemic and its challenges.

“There’s a lot of hard work that the students and teachers consistently put in that isn’t always recognized, so for me, this is an opportunity to highlight that hard work. That work couldn’t be done without the community, the kids, the parents, and especially not without the teachers. It’s been tough, but the work has been rewarding, and it’s the right work to be doing.”

Her advice to future educators?

“Prepare our next generation to be forward thinking, so that things like a national pandemic can’t stop them.  I believe my students can do anything they put their minds to.”

In addition to these two alumnae, several other Spartan educators received top honors from Guilford County Schools. UNCG sends an additional congratulations to:

  • Carla Flores-Ballestros, Elementary Principal of the Year recipient
  • Chase Arrington, Assistant Principal of the Year recipient
  • Dr. Trent Vernon, Principal of the Year finalist
  • Shanice Foye, Teacher of the Year finalist

Story by Alexandra McQueen, University Communications

 
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