Siler City, NC – Way back before Jordan-Matthews High School Assistant Principal Donna Barger was a Jet, she was teaching eighth grade in another county. There was a kid in her class named Charles Byrd.
“He was fantastic as a student,” Barger recalled. “He was just a phenomenal kid.”
Byrd’s not a bad schoolteacher, either — he’s really good, in fact, the Chatham County Schools Beginning Teacher of the Year.
“You’re doing great things for young people,” said Dr. Derrick D. Jordan, the district’s superintendent. “You are showing what it means to be a Jet.”
Jordan acknowledged the award during a Zoom meeting organized by Jordan-Matthews Principal Tripp Crayton. The award puts Byrd in regional competition. Moving beyond that would have him vying for a shot as the best beginning teacher in the state.
“My goal as an educator is to empower students to be powerful beyond measure,” Byrd said. “I remember coming up in school and letting the fear of failure and being judged stop me from pursuing what I wanted to accomplish. My goal is to empower students to join a new club, try a new hobby or start a business. I believe all children are unique. All they need is love and impactful role models to help bring their dreams to life.”
Byrd teaches business-related courses at Jordan-Matthews. Last school year, in addition to coaching basketball, he served as a resource teacher, working with students who needed support in math, reading and writing.
“It was an exceptional experience, and I was able to build great relationships with students,” Byrd said. “Mrs. Barger has encouraged me and given me support throughout my entire time as a teacher.
“She was an iconic figure during my journey through grade school.”
“I’m just as proud as I can be to be here at this moment,” Barger said.
“There’s nothing like seeing one of your students come back and follow in your footsteps and make you proud,” Jordan said.
“The award itself was a remarkable accomplishment for me,” Byrd said. “It made me feel as though my efforts to create a positive impact around the school and in each student’s life were truly worth something. However, without the support of encouraging teachers and staff like Mrs. Barger, none of this would ever be possible.”
And the guy’s just getting started.