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Lisa Godwin, Onslow kindergarten teacher, named state teacher of the year

Lisa Godwin, a Dixon Elementary School kindergarten teacher from Onslow County, was named the 2017 Burroughs Wellcome Fund North Carolina Teacher of the Year. 

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Mark Johnson announced the award, which Godwin received over eight other regional finalists throughout the state. 

“Every day, Lisa gives her students the support and encouragement that lay an essential foundation for them to keep learning across the grades and beyond,” Johnson said. “She reaches out to their parents to build trust and reinforce learning in the home, and she leads her colleagues with respect and by example.”

Godwin succeeds Bobbie Cavnar, the 2016 winner and English teacher from Gaston County. 

“(She) assigns heartwork, not homework,” Johnson said to the crowd, “really encouraging students to go home and making this a family-engaged process.”

Godwin said she plans to work with the rest of the regional winners to bring a voice for teachers and their concerns to the state level. She said she wants her work to stem from “the 3 R’s: responsibility, respect, and relationships.” The Teacher of the Year sits on the State Board of Education as an adviser. 

“I want to focus on building relationships with our community leaders, with our parents, to make sure that we are working together to help children and to help our schools across the state,” Godwin said.

Godwin has been a teacher in multiple grades at multiple schools, an instructional assistant, a school bus driver, and an administrator. 

“I love children,” Godwin said. “And I love everything about education, so I don’t consider it a job. I really consider it more like a mission field.”

Governor Roy Cooper congratulated the finalists and thanked them for their service to the state’s children and families. 

“Every single day, we leave our kids at school and we trust these teachers to help mold them into successful adults,” Cooper said. “As a state, we need to put our money where our trust is.”

Cooper mentioned his plan to make North Carolina a top-10 educated state by raising teacher salary, supporting early education, preparing students to fill gaps in the workforce, and repairing the teacher pipeline.  

“North Carolina is a place for education,” Cooper said. “We’ve had our bumps and our bruises, but we know who we are. Public education is not only in our state constitution, it is in our DNA as North Carolinians.”

 Godwin reacted to her win: 

Liz Bell

Liz Bell is the early childhood reporter for EducationNC.