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NCCAT Beginning Teacher of the Year Award finalist announced

The following is a press release from NCCAT

Twenty-seven teachers from across North Carolina have been selected as finalists for the North Carolina Center for the Advancement of Teaching (NCCAT) Beginning Teacher of the Year Award for their dedication, innovation and ability to inspire students to achieve.

One of these talented educators will be named the 2019 NCCAT Beginning Teacher of the Year. The award will be presented for the first time December 5, 2019, at the NCCAT Cullowhee Campus.

“We appreciate the enthusiastic response from all over the state for the Beginning Teacher of the Year Award,” said NCCAT Executive Director M. Brock Womble. “These finalists provide a snapshot of the lasting impact great teachers have on our students from the first to the last day they step into a North Carolina public school. We are excited about this opportunity to honor teachers for the important work they do in our state.”

The 2019 NCCAT North Carolina Beginning Teachers of the Year are:

       – Sara Bowen Andrews, Rockingham County Schools

       – Tina Brown, Beaufort County Schools

       – Melissa Canter, Alexander Schools

       – Tria Cope, Randolph County

       – Rebecca Dearien, Craven County

      – Kennedy Dockery, Mount Airy City Schools

      – Victoria Freeman, Gaston County Schools

      – Megan Houchins, Iredell Statesville Schools

      – Cristina Lane, Wake County Public Schools

      – Lara Johnson, Bladen County Schools

      – Sarah Lawrence, Bear Grass Charter School

      – Sydney Paladino, Envision Science Academy Charter

      – Kesli Pinkston, Haywood County Consolidated Schools

      – Robin Kent Pittman, Careret County

      – Damarius Prieto, Cumberland County

      – Allie Reitzell, Newton Conover Schools

      – Elizabeth Riddick, Perquimans County

      – Justine Riddick, The College Preparatory and Leadership Academy of High Point

      – Alaysha Rogers, Halifax County Schools

      – Leanne Rose, Mooresville Graded School District

     – Allison Snyder, Buncombe County

     – Rachel Somerville, Henderson County Public Schools

     – Erin Stewart, Lenoir County

     – Alison Stuart, Catawba County Schools

     – Reba Warren, Pitt County

     – Ziena Walker, Innovative School District

     – Bethany Young, Granville County Schools

The NCCAT Beginning Teacher of the Year process was developed to honor beginning teachers who are the future of education in North Carolina.  Information about the program is online at

The NCCAT Beginning Teacher of the Year prizes include:

– $5,000 cash prize

– Participation in a GoGlobal NC trip to Australia in 2020

– Instructional supply funds for the teacher’s school

– $2,000 cash prize to the runner-up

Travel expenses for regional winners to participate in NCCAT professional development and leadership development.


Increasing teacher effectiveness is fundamental to improving public education. NCCAT provides teachers with new knowledge, skills, teaching methods, best practices and information to take back to their classrooms. For more information about NCCAT’s professional development programs, visit or call 828-293-5202.

Alex Granados

Alex Granados was the senior reporter for EducationNC from December 2014-March 2023.


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