N.C. Teacher of the Year: Grow students first, test scores second

Pittsboro, NC – Educators ought to have a little rebel in them, 2017 Burroughs Wellcome Fund North Carolina Teacher of the Year Lisa Godwin told Chatham County Schools (CCS) educators who’ve been on the job three years or less.

2017 Burroughs Wellcome Fund North Carolina Teacher of the Year Lisa Godwin

2017 Burroughs Wellcome Fund North Carolina Teacher of the Year Lisa Godwin

Like that time she got an email instructing staff members not to decorate their classrooms with plants and rugs and stuffed animals and such because that would make their education spaces look too much like homes. So Godwin starting replying, typing about how her classroom very much needs to be a home for students who show up to school from difficult situations. She hit the send button.

North Carolina Teacher of the Year Lisa Godwin talks to Pollard Middle School Dawn Streets.

Voila! The recommendation was reversed — rugs, teddy bears, potted plants and whatnot all of a sudden were OK, all because she advocated for her students, Godwin explained.

“If you know it’s right for kids, stand up [for them],” said Godwin, who has spent this school year delivering that message all over North Carolina.

Godwin’s duties as Teacher of the Year took her out of the kindergarten classroom where she’d been teaching in Onslow County. She has a master’s degree and worked several years as an assistant principal in both Onslow and Lee counties. But Godwin — who’s been an educator for two decades — said she returned to the classroom because that’s where she believed she could have the biggest impact.

Chatham County Beginning Teachers

While crisscrossing this state, Godwin carries a photo album that includes pictures of her students. She showed CCS educators an image of a project made with supplies purchased with her personal funds. Godwin said she uses the photo to make the point that there are other teachers using their own money like that because they’re so passionate about educating children, and more attention needs to be placed on bolstering school funding.

“I have tried to be a voice for you guys,” Godwin told the teachers.