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Knox teacher featured in State of the State address

SALISBURY — Felecia Young never expected to be part of the governor’s annual address on the past year in the state, but on Monday her story was aired for the state to see.

Young, a sixth-grade math teacher at Knox Middle School, said someone anonymously nominated her to be recognized by a program sponsored by office supplier FSIoffice as well as the Carolina Panthers identifying local teachers as heroes.

She finished top six in one of the rounds of recognition. Shortly after, someone from Gov. Roy Cooper’s office contacted her asking if she would be interested in being interviewed by the governor. The two met virtually, and the state recorded an interview and footage at Knox to be part of the speech.

“It was amazing,” Young said. “I was so shocked and surprised. I was asking how I was chosen out of so many amazing teachers in North Carolina.”

Classroom innovation was one of the reasons she was chosen. During the pandemic she started using TikTok as an education tool. 

Young said she started using the video platform as a way to make sure she was reaching her students. She would collaborate with them on TikTok and turn lessons like the quadrants on a grid into dances.

Cooper told Young her videos have gotten him interested in math again.

Rowan-Salisbury Schools Superintendent Tony Watlington said the district is honored for Cooper to highlight one of its educators and Young embodies the district’s motto to provide an extraordinary education every day.

Young said RSS is an amazing district and she felt more prepared to make the unexpected jump to online learning amid the COVID-19 pandemic. She credited former Superintendent Lynn Moody for moving the district to a one-to-one program so every student has a device and elearning days the district started a few years ago that occasionally took students out of the classroom and onto their devices for a day.

Young said the pandemic has brought more hardship for students than having to learn from home. Some students have helped care for their siblings. For others, parents lost jobs.

“I just hope that teachers understand during this pandemic it’s important we have compassion for our students,” Young said. “As adults we deal with things in different ways.”

Young said kids can be more resilient than adults and the students come to school with smiles on their faces. The biggest adjustment for her was not being able to see her students every day. Things feel a bit more normal because students are attending four days per week.

Students still come and go from in-person classes because of COVID-19 quarantines, but she said attendance has been almost perfect.

“I tell my principal Mr. Courtwright my kids make me want to come to school every day,” Young said. “As soon as I get here my whole demeanor and attitude changes. They give me a lot of hope.”

Knox Principal Michael Courtwright said Young is a godsend for the school and someone who taught in Charlotte for a few years but wanted to come back and work at a school where she could make an impact.

“One of the requirements we look for in a teacher is they have to want to be here,” Courtwright said. “We can help them grow and develop, but No. 1 you have to want to be here and no one cares more than Mrs. Young. It’s a good highlight. He definitely picked the right person in the state.”

You can view Young’s segment in the address here: nc-governor.medium.com/state-of-the-state-stories-d59d3fbb7642.

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