Changing of the guard: New teacher, principal of the year announced

Published 11:28 am Tuesday, August 23, 2016

By Rebecca Rider

LANDIS — An early morning changing of the guard saw the installation of a new teacher and principal of the year.

At Tuesday’s Back to School conference, held at South Rowan High School, Anthony Johnson, a teacher at Isenberg Elementary, was named the 2016 Teacher of the Year, and Dr. Jamie Durant, principal of West Rowan High School, was named the 2016 Principal of the Year.

Last year’s winners were Dr. Latoya Dixon, former co-principal of Knox Middle School, and Nancy Goodnight, of Millbridge Elementary.

During the conference’s opening rally, Superintendent Dr. Lynn Moody spoke briefly to the system’s nearly 1,500 teachers about finding the “sweet spot” of teaching — figuring out the perfect combination of factors that makes a learning experience extraordinary for students and teachers alike.

“It doesn’t happen all the time,” she said. “It doesn’t happen every day — but when it does, it’s compelling, and you’ll come back time after time.”

The teacher and principal of the year awards were presented by representatives from community partners Belk and Gerry Wood Honda.

Durant has been the principal at West Rowan for nine years and said he is “very honored” to be able to represent his school.

“I’m just an extension of the school and community I serve,” he said.

Durant said that when Moody arrived two years ago, it felt like she “issued a challenge” to administrators to make their schools, and the district, a better place. He felt that gave him an opportunity to “be transformational” and lead in a different way.

Anthony Johnson, a fourth- and fifth-grade science and social studies teacher at Isenberg, said he was “speechless” over the award.

“It just caught me by surprise,” he said.

His principal, Marvin Moore, said that Johnson “captivates” students.

“Anthony Johnson breaks the mold,” Moore said.

Johnson’s students work with robotics, and this year he said he put a maker space in his classroom, and his students have worked on projects publishing their own books or making music videos.

“He’s good, there’s no limit,” Moore said.

Johnson is married to Dr. Desiree Johnson, and has three daughters, Adanya, Kailah and Jessieca.

Johnson received a $1,000 stipend for his classroom from the Rowan County Chamber of Commerce and a free one-year lease on a vehicle from Gerry Wood Honda.

All certified staff attended the back-to-school conference. After the awarding of teacher and principal of the year, teachers broke off to attend learning sessions. Nearly 400 topics were available to teachers throughout the day.

District teachers of the year were:

• Kellie Haff, Bostian Elementary

• Bree Stillings, Jesse C. Carson High School

• Angela Ramey, China Grove Elementary

• Carl Muolo, China Grove Middle

• Lynn Bradley, Cleveland Elementary

• Jennifer Barbee, Corriher Lipe Middle

• Helen Graf, East Rowan High School

• Tiea Goodnight, Enochville Elementary

• Leslie Wright, Erwin Middle

• Dawn Young, Faith Elementary

• Pamela Steinauer, Granite Wuarry Elementary

• Sally Schultz, Hanford-Dole Elementary

• John Pfannes, Henderson Independent High School

• Jamie Piatt, Hurley Elementary

• Katie Gardner, Knollwood Elementary

• Amber Reinsvold, Knox Middle School

• Donna Girty, Koontz Elementary

• Richelle Bates, Landis Elementary

• Christina Grandt, Millbridge Elementary

• Wendy Eller, Morgan Elementary

• Kimberly Turnbull, Mount Ulla Elementary

• Kristina Sheets, North Rowan Elementary

• Cynthia Coleman, North Rowan High School

• Laura Ritchie, North Rowan Middle School

• Elizabeth Anderson, Overton Elementary

• Gina Ritchie, Rockwell Elementary

• Kevin Aycock, Rowan County Early College

• Carie Fugle, Salisbury High School

• Zachary McClary, Shive Elementary School

• Ashley Lanning, South Rowan High School

• Ashley Nelson, Southeast Middle School

• Tiffany Best, West Rowan High School

• Melinda Burns, West Rowan Middle School

• Michelle Hastings, Woodleaf Elementary

Contact reporter Rebecca Rider at 704-797-4264.