Medora Burke-Scoll has been named the Alamance-Burlington school system’s 2022 Teacher of the Year. Burke-Scoll was named the ABSS Teacher of the Year during the annual Excellence in Education awards program, held Tuesday night at Alamance Country Club in Burlington.
Medora Burke-Scoll, a science teacher at Eastern High School, began her teaching career with ABSS 11 years ago.
“I always thought I wanted to become a research scientist, until that is, I became one,” Burke-Scoll recalls of her foray into teaching. “It turns out that I absolutely love science, but I love the act of sharing science so much more than the too quiet world of labs and research. The give and take of facilitating a classroom discussion, the chaos of hands-on labs, the creativity of finding ways to engage my students, and the lifelong connections formed with students…all of it fills my bucket. It’s been 11 years, and I can still say with absolute certainty that I love this job every day.”
Other finalists for the 2022 ABSS Teacher of the Year included:
- Kristi Allred, a 3rd grade teacher at Garrett Elementary School who became a teacher seven years and has taught for ABSS for six of those years. Allred says, “I became a teacher because I believe that I can use my passions to make a real difference in the lives of my students and develop my students into kind and compassionate adults who contribute to society,” as well as to provide “engaging and meaningful learning experiences that fuel a lifelong love of learning in my students.”
- James Athas, who teaches health and P.E. at Williams High School, who joined teaching profession eight years ago and has taught for ABSS for four years.
“I really wanted to be able to work with kids and share knowledge of lifelong health and fitness,” Athas says of his reason for becoming a teacher. Among the most rewarding aspects of being a teacher is pushing students to achieve a personal best and seeing the look on their faces when they reach the goals they set.
- Samra Bailey, who teaches math at Western High School and has taught for ABSS for all 31 years of her career. “Educating teenagers allows me to assist with decisions, behaviors, strengths, weaknesses, and creativity,” Bailey says of her reason for becoming a teacher.
“No matter the student’s background or abilities, I guide individuals to believe in themselves, build positive relationships, increase their self-esteem, instill a growth mindset, and become productive members of society. I have the unique opportunity to shape future generations.”
Heather Danishanko, who has taught high school Spanish and Humanities for the Burlington School throughout her five years as a teacher. “Even at a young age, I love helping people learn something new,” Danishanko says of her reason for wanting to become a teacher.
“As I grew older, I realized the true impact that teachers have on their students. Teachers have the ability to challenge and push their students while at the same time provide support and allyship.”
- Robert Davis, a math teacher at Alamance Community College who has taught at ACC for 14 years and is a 17-year veteran teacher. Davis recalls getting his first taste of teaching as a tutor in college.
“I love working with students and helping them find success in their math classes,” he elaborates. “By the end of graduate school, I was sure that I would end up in a classroom.” Davis says that, while he didn’t know much about community colleges when he started his career, he “quickly learned the value of our community colleges, and have found great reward in working with our students.”
- Hannah Morris, a 2nd grade teacher at Eastlawn Elementary who has taught for ABSS for 11 years and is a 15-year veteran of the profession. Morris says she can’t remember a time in her life when she didn’t want to teach something.
“I was the kind of kid who made myself worksheets and assignments over summer break.” Now 15 years into the profession, Morris says, “I come to school for the kids. I love their perspectives on the world. I love seeing them learn and discover…They keep me on my toes and challenge me to think deeper, see the world differently, explain another way, change directions, research answers to their questions that have stumped me. I am privileged to participate in their learning and discovery each and every day.”
- Sadie Lynn Phelan, an 8th grade science teacher at Hawfields Middle School who has taught for ABSS for 12 years and is a 21-year veteran of the teaching profession.
Phelan says she has always wanted to be a teacher and couldn’t imagine any other career for herself. “I have always wanted to be an advocate for children and once I started in a preschool room I was addicted,” Phelan recalls of her early days as a teacher.
Four recent ABSS Teachers of the Year (Tyronna Hooker, Freebird McKinney, Kelly Poquette, and Kevin Scharen) were later selected as the Piedmont-Triad Region Teacher of the Year, Alamance County chamber officials noted in releasing the names of the 2022 finalists late last month. Hooker and McKinney also went on to be named the North Carolina Teacher of the Year in 2011 and 2018, respectively.
This marks the first time since 2019 that the chamber has hosted its annual “Excellence in Education Awards” program in-person, due to the ongoing pandemic.
This year’s event was held at the Alamance Country Club in Burlington Tuesday night, coinciding with the annual National Teacher Appreciation Day.