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Coretta Wilson knew something was up when the emcee asked her to stay on the stage for a special presentation. Wilson, a seventh grade language arts teacher at Charlotte’s Alexander Graham Middle School, shuffled toward the back corner of the platform and looked nervously at her feet.

TOE 2She was the last of 20 Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools teachers honored by MeckEd last week as “Teachers of Excellence.” And, as Wilson quickly learned, she was also the recipient of the Paul Jackson Award, given each year to a teacher who demonstrates an exceptional commitment to his or her students. The award is named after a CMS teacher who died of cancer in 2012.

Wilson doubled over and clasped her hands over her mouth in surprise when three of her students, escorted by the school’s principal, walked up to the stage to honor her. The boys were part of a class that Wilson calls her “young gentlemen.”

She requested the class of highly challenging, historically low performing male students, and has developed community partnerships to serve the boys’ social and emotional needs. “Coretta never gives in and never gives up on any child,” said A.G. principal Bob Folk.

“The energy in her classroom is contagious.”

Wilson, a former television news reporter, said she tries to think about her students’ future. “I’m thinking five or six years down the road while most of my students can’t see beyond lunch,” she told The Charlotte Observer. “I know what’s out there and I want them to be a part of it.”

MeckEd received nominations from more than 100 CMS principals. A selection committee narrowed the nominees to a group of 20, based on classroom performance, character and school leadership. 

This is MeckEd’s fourth year of hosting the Teacher of Excellence awards. Executive Director Bill Anderson and CMS Superintendent Ann Clark urged attendees to think about ways they can help the district find and keep outstanding educators.

“I’m inviting you all to join the CMS Human Resources team,” Clark said. “Everybody in this room knows an outstanding teacher who’s living outside of North Carolina. What can we do to bring them here?”

The 20 honorees are:

  • Meredith Barton-Metzger, Albemarle Road Middle
  • Courtney Frank, Carmel Middle
  • Sarita Gonzales, J.M Alexander Middle
  • Marsha Graddy, Beverly Woods Elementary
  • Kristen Hager, Matthews Elementary
  • Drew Hammill, Phillip O. Berry Academy
  • Chelsea Harley, Berryhill School
  • Ursula Harris, Idlewild Elementary
  • Franswa Hill, Tuckaseegee Elementary
  • Madison Hipp, Hopewell High
  • Krystil Irvin, Crestdale Middle
  • April Isbell, East Mecklenburg High
  • Jennifer Kershaw, Grand Oak Elementary
  • Courtney Kowalski, Windsor Park Elementary
  • Sarah Lack, Mint Hill Middle
  • Carman Le, Huntersville Elementary
  • Lorrie Thurston, McKee Road Elementary
  • Kris Wazaney, Bailey Middle
  • Coretta Wilson, Alexander Graham Middle
  • Alisa Wright-Yasurek, South Charlotte Middle

Editor’s note: Adam works for MeckEd and served on the selection committee.

Adam Rhew

Adam Rhew attended Beverly Woods Elementary, Carmel Middle, and South Mecklenburg High schools, all part of Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools. He earned a journalism and political science degree from UNC-Chapel Hill. He is a contributor to Southern Living, Charlotte magazine, and SBNation Longform, among other publications. Previously, Adam was an award-winning television and radio news reporter, with stops at stations in Chapel Hill, N.C., Charlottesville and Richmond, Va., and Charlotte, N.C.