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Innovative School District teacher is a finalist for NCCAT Beginning Teacher of the Year Award

The following is a press release from NC Public Schools

Zeina Walker, a third-grade teacher at Southside-Ashpole Elementary school in Rowland, NC, has been selected as a finalist for North Carolina Center for the Advancement of Teaching (NCCAT) Beginning Teacher of the Year Award. Ms. Walker, who is a US military veteran, is among 27 talented educators being recognized for their dedication, innovation and ability to inspire students to achieve.

“Ms. Walker is not only an inspiration to the students, her enthusiasm is contagious and it resonates throughout the entire school and in the local community; we are thrilled to have her on our team!” stated School Director, Dr. Kenneth Bowen. ISD Superintendent, Dr. James Ellerbe, added, “It is wonderful that Ms. Walker is being recognized in this way. It is very deserving; she has done a tremendous job of helping students grow and achieve. We wish her all the best as the selection process continues.”

In a letter of recommendation to NCCAT, Southside Ashpole’s school counselor Cindy Chavis wrote that Ms. Walker “demonstrated on a consistent basis the ability to invoke and instill in (students) the need for and the desire to achieve success with hard work, pride, and a belief in themselves. (She is) a professional, distinguishable by her work ethic, content knowledge, social skills, organizational skills, caring attitude, innovative ideas, and positive personality.”

The NCCAT Beginning Teacher of the Year, who will be recognized in a ceremony on December 5, 2019, wins a $5,000 cash prize; participation in a GoGlobal NC trip to Australia in 2020 and instructional supply funds for the teacher’s school. The runner-up receives a $2,000 cash prize.

To learn more about the NCCAT Beginning Teacher of the Year program, go to

NC Innovative School District

The North Carolina Innovative School District (ISD) was created in 2016 through legislation enacted to improve student outcomes in low-performing schools across North Carolina. The ISD works in partnership with local communities to design and implement strategies for school improvement, creating innovative conditions for accelerating student growth and achievement.


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