“Teachers have a large impact on students’ lives, not just on those in their classrooms; I’ve hopefully impacted some over the years,” said Karl Sain, math teacher at West Lincoln High School.
Sain was one of several Lincoln County School employees chosen for this year’s round of awards for outstanding educators.
Sain is the 2012 Teacher of the Year for the county, which he largely credits to the teachers he had while going through school. His instructors showed how Math, a subject that often has the potential to be less than exciting, could be presented in engaging, interesting ways — ideas that that he would later use in his classrooms, he said.
Under the same roof, another faculty member, Brian Clary, was also picked for an award.
The Assistant Principal of the Year has been at WLHS for five years and continues to enjoy working with the students and faculty. Through the close relationships he developed with his own mentors, Clary hopes to develop such relationships with those he works with now.
“The students are easily my favorite part of the job,” Clary told the Times-News Wednesday. “I get to help teachers deal with difficult situations sometimes, too, and I feel like that’s also something pretty important.”
Working with students was a large part of each recipient’s response to being chosen for the award. Rock Springs Elementary Principal Rhonda Harrill was no different.
This isn’t the first time the PTO-nominated educator has been recognized — she received the Teacher of the Year award in 1999 while working at Catawba Springs Elementary. Harrill is finishing up her seventh year as principal at Rock Springs and continues to look for ways to challenge herself at school.
“I just recently had a conversation with my family where I said I’ve never experienced a day that I didn’t want to go to school,” Harrill said. “I guess that’s the best part of my job — loving what I do.”
Truly caring about what she does and always living out the school’s motto to go the extra mile were a few of the reasons G.E. Massey Elementary Principal Kimberly Davis nominated Deborah Beech for Guidance Counselor of the Year, which she won.
An Iowa native, Beech was a teacher for 20 years when she noticed how much she liked interacting and talking with the students. Through her conversations with them, she realized how detrimental outside factors, like the students’ home lives, were to the learning environment, she said.
Six years ago, Beech tried her hand at the elementary level, rather than middle and high schools where she typically worked, and hasn’t looked back.
“Learning is important, but other structural things have to be in place in order for them to be able to do that,” Beech said.
Behind-the-scenes staff that keep things running smoothly at local schools were also recognized, like secretary, bookkeeper and a woman carrying a variety of other titles under her belt, Jane Wolf of Kiser Intermediate.
Originally from Texas, Wolf moved to Lincoln County around 2005 and has been with the school since it opened in 2006.
She was nominated by Principal Kirby Oldham, who said that in all of his 39 years in the education system, he has never worked with anyone like Wolf.
The two have only worked together for two years, but Wolf brings much more to the table than just checking students in and out and meeting parents.
“She is unique in her perception of the job,” Oldham said. “Jane is much more than a secretary and someone who keeps things confidential; she has the admiration and appreciation of this whole staff.”
Another winner whose position stays more behind the curtain than other recipients, Jeff Gavin of Lincolnton High, was chosen as the Media Specialist of the Year.
Gavin, originally from Staten Island, N.Y., has only been with LHS for a year, but is already making a name for himself on campus.
“In the short time that I’ve worked with Jeff, he has shown a passion for improving the quality of learning in the school by promoting literacy and technology,” LHS teacher and Gavin’s nominator Adam Benoit said. “I’ve heard a great deal of positive comments about him from students in my classes.”
Earlier this month, a banquet was held to honor the chosen educators.