Being selected as Teacher of the Year for your school or district is always an honor for McDowell County educators.

This week, school winners for the 2019-2020 school year were honored at the annual Teacher of the Year banquet on Thursday at VenYou 52 in Marion. And the county’s Teacher of the Year was announced Friday morning.

Nominees for the county Teacher of the Year, who were honored with a plaque and framed photo on Thursday, were Tammy Deyton of Nebo Elementary, Kylie McKinney of North Cove Elementary, Andrea Hardy of McDowell Academy for Innovation, Heather Martin of McDowell High School, Stephanie Mull of Glenwood Elementary, Melanie Hamilton of Marion Elementary, John Beck of Pleasant Gardens Elementary, Leesha White of Old Fort Elementary, Kayla Fortenberry of Eastfield Global Magnet School, Susan Yergler of Foothills Community School, MaryAnn Basney of East McDowell Middle School, Laccarna Carson of McDowell Early College and Renata Crawley of West Marion Elementary.

All of these teachers selected as the school winners competed for the title of county Teacher of the Year. They provided a portfolio to the selection committee, which also visited their classrooms and interviewed each candidate. Scores are tallied from those factors, and an elementary and secondary Teacher of the Year are decided. Whoever has the highest score out of those two are named Teacher of the Year for McDowell County Schools.

“Everyone here is worthy of this honor,” said Superintendent Mark Garrett. “I want all of you to enjoy tonight’s celebration because, no matter who is announced tomorrow, you are all deserving.”

State Teacher of the Year Freebird McKinney and NC Western Region Teacher of the Year Julie Pittman were guest speakers at the banquet on Thursday. They spent the day visiting McDowell County Schools meeting students, staff and learning about the many programs McDowell County Schools have to offer. They also spoke to the future teachers’ class at McDowell High.

“This is one of the most memorable and meaningful days we have had during this whole Teacher of the Year experience,” McKinney said to The McDowell News. “We are greatly blessed to have spent a day in McDowell County.”

McKinney and Pittman both echoed the fact they could feel the love as soon as they walked into any of McDowell’s schools.

“My heart was touched in every single classroom I went into,” said Pittman. “I think the thing that stood out to me the most was how much love that you could feel in every single school and in every school classroom, in the hallways, it is undeniable.”

After Thursday’s celebration, the nominees waited in anticipation to hear who was to be chosen for the high honor of being McDowell County Schools Teacher of the Year.

Friday morning, Superintendent Mark Garrett, along with several other Central Office administrators, traveled to the classrooms of the elementary and secondary teachers’ selected to represent the district.

Fifth-grade science teacher Renata Crawley is the overall winner for Teacher of the Year, and will serve during the 2019-2020 school year. She was presented with a $1,000 check from Wells Fargo, flowers, certificate and a Wells Fargo Outstanding Educator Apple, handcrafted by North Carolina artist Robert Levin.

“It’s a dream come true. I can’t think of a better school system to work in,” Crawley said shortly after hearing the news. “Everybody supports everybody; it’s all about making connections. This is my 27th year and I love what I do and I love the school that I’m in, I love the county, the district and we want our kids to dream big and follow through with those dreams. We support them in what they do.”

MaryAnn Basney of East McDowell Middle School was the named the Secondary Teacher of the Year. She teaches seventh grade math.

“I love what I do,” she said. “I am so humbled by this honor.”

Crawley will represent the district at the Northwest Regional level in November.

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