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Kindergarten teacher named 2018 Kannapolis Teacher of the Year


KANNAPOLIS — Beth Giddings accepted her award as the 2018 Kannapolis City Schools Teacher of the Year with tears in her eyes and gratitude in her heart.

Giddings, a kindergarten teacher at G.W. Carver Elementary School, competed against seven other teachers for the honor. The Teacher of the Year award was presented at a breakfast meeting early Thursday morning.

“I am grateful for every one of them,” Superintendent Darren “Chip” Buckwell said of the candidates.

While the celebration recognized only a few of the district’s teachers, Buckwell said he wanted to remind all educators that what they do is invaluable — even if they never win an award for it.

Jennifer Linn, 2017 Teacher of the Year, agreed. Teachers put in long hours and pour their hearts into what they do not for hope of recognition but because it is who they are.

“We do all those things because we are teachers,” she said.

And just because they fly under the radar doesn’t mean no one is watching.

“Somebody notices every day,” Linn said. “We do the things that we do because we are teachers, and we do them for our students. And they notice, and it matters.”

But sometimes, teachers shine. Those who know Giddings described her open, easy attitude toward children and her ability to teach in a way that builds students’ confidence.

“Ms. Giddings possesses an exceptional ability to relate to elementary schoolchildren regardless of their ability or their ethnicity,” said Erik Johnson, principal of Carver Elementary.

Johnson said that not only does Giddings have a knack for uncovering student learning, she works to help them get up to speed and helps them overcome any challenges they have.

She also serves on the school’s Positive Behavior Interventions and Support Team.

Giddings said she was humbled and overwhelmed by the honor.

“I’m grateful that I’m going to be able to represent Kannapolis City Schools, because we are an amazing place. … We care. We care,” she said.

Giddings has 19 years of teaching experience. She earned her undergraduate degree from Anna Maria College and a master’s degree from Westfield State University. As the 2018 Teacher of the Year, Giddings will receive $1,000 to use in her classroom.

The 2018 first runner-up for Teacher of the Year was Caroline Fongemy, a fifth-grade teacher at Jackson Park Elementary. Fongemy received a $500 gift for her classroom.

Other nominees were:

• Lauren Dobbin, a second- and third-grade teacher at Fred L. Wilson Elementary School.

• Timothy Downing, an agriculture science teacher at Kannapolis Middle School.

• Alison Dwire, a first- and second-grade teacher at Woodrow Wilson Elementary

• Larry Efird, an English teacher at A.L. Brown High School.

• Karessa Lattimore, a kindergarten and first-grade teacher at Shady Brook Elementary.

• Amanda Trexler, a second-grade teacher at Forest Park Elementary.

Nominees received $100 gifts.

Kannapolis City Schools’ Teacher of the Year is sponsored by the First Financial Group of America, which helped provide financial gifts for all nominees.

Contact reporter Rebecca Rider at 704-797-4264.



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