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Gaston County teacher becomes teacher of the year

The following is a press release from North Carolina Public Schools

South Point High School English and Journalism teacher Bobbie Cavnar today was named the 2016 Burroughs Wellcome Fund North Carolina Teacher of the Year. The Gaston County Public Schools’ teacher succeeds Keana Triplett, an English teacher at Ashe County High School (Ashe County Schools).

In announcing this year’s recipient, State Superintendent June Atkinson said Cavnar is a champion of public education and the opportunities it provides students. “Bobbie sees public education as the one thing that is equal and fair in a child’s life, and he sees teachers as the equalizers, the keeper’s of America’s promise of equal opportunity.”

Atkinson also thanked the Burroughs Wellcome Fund for its continued sponsorship of the North Carolina Teacher of the Year program. “We know that great teachers make the difference, and Bobbie is a prime example of what can be accomplished when teachers are committed to their students’ success. Without the Burroughs Wellcome Fund we would not be able to highlight his accomplishments nor the other regional teachers of the year who represent North Carolina’s quality teachers.”

Burroughs Wellcome Fund President Dr. John Burris said that Burroughs Wellcome Fund is proud to sponsor the North Carolina Teacher of the Year Award. “We recognize that central to the successful and fulfilling education of our youth are great teachers and that without such teachers both our state and nation will falter.”

Cavnar has taught for 16 years, the last 12 at South Point High School. Prior to this, he taught high school English and Journalism at Charles W. Flanagan High School in Pembroke Pines, Fla. He currently participates in the Gaston County Teacher Induction Program for Success where he trains incoming teachers in model classroom best practices. He has presented at a number of workshops including the UNC-Charlotte Writing Project Spring and Fall Conferences in 2013 and the North Carolina English Teachers Association Fall Conference in 2010.

He has received a number of awards including the 2016 Southwest Region Teacher of the Year, 2015 Wells Fargo Educator of the Year for Gaston County Schools, 2014 South Point High School Teacher of the Year, and South Point High School Most Influential Educator (voted on by students) for 2013, 2011, 2009, 2006 and 2004.

Cavnar earned a bachelor’s degree in English Education in 1999 from Florida State University and a master’s degree in English in 2012 from UNC-Charlotte.

As Burroughs Wellcome Fund North Carolina Teacher of the Year, Cavnar will spend the next school year traveling the state as an ambassador for the teaching profession.

He will receive the use of a state vehicle for one year, a one-year leased vehicle from Flow Automotive, LLC, the opportunity to attend a seminar at the NC Center for the Advancement of Teaching (NCCAT), a mobile device from Lenovo valued at approximately $1,600, an engraved vase, a one-time cash award of $7,500, a trip to the National Teacher of the Year Conference and International Space Camp, and the opportunity to travel abroad through an endowment sponsored by The Center for International Understanding.

He also will serve as an advisor to the State Board of Education for two years and as a board member for the NC Public School Forum for one year. In addition, the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction will sponsor his enrollment and completion of the Education Policy Fellowship Program.

The other regional finalists were:

  • Northeast: Marie Smith, Conway Middle (Northampton County Schools);
  • Southeast: Katie Snyder, Hoggard High (New Hanover County Schools);
  • North Central: Margaret McNeill, Dunn Middle (Harnett County Schools);
  • Sandhills: Olivia Hall, Roseboro-Salemburg Middle (Sampson County Schools);
  • Piedmont-Triad: Kevin Scharen, Alamance Burlington Early College at Alamance Community College (Alamance-Burlington Schools);
  • Northwest: Leah Hayes, South Newton Elementary (Newton-Conover City Schools);
  • Western: Angel Ledbetter, Rutherford Early College High (Rutherford County Schools); and
  • Charter Schools: Brandon Brown, Lake Norman Charter (Huntersville).

North Carolina has recognized outstanding teachers through its Teacher of the Year program since 1970. For more information on North Carolina’s Teacher of the Year recognition program, visit the program’s website. You also can follow the North Carolina Teacher of the Year finalists on Twitter at #NCTOYPOY.


EdNC staff reporting relies on staff, interns, and columnists.