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‘A tribute to North Carolina’ — An interview with Maureen Stover, National Teacher of the Year finalist

The North Carolina 2020 Burroughs Wellcome Fund Teacher of the Year, Maureen Stover, was just named one of four finalists for National Teacher of the Year. Stover taught biology, earth and environmental science, and advancement via individual determination (AVID) at Cumberland International Early College High School in Fayetteville.

After meeting Stover in August 2020, I caught up with her on Zoom following the announcement.

“I’m really, really excited,” she said. “This is a great honor for me, but it’s really a tribute to North Carolina and all the people we have that are doing great things for the kids in our classrooms.”

Typically the North Carolina Teacher of the Year travels the state, visiting schools, attending events, and advocating on behalf of public education. Thanks to the pandemic, Stover’s experience has been a little different, but she is thankful for technology.

“There was a day in December when I was able to go visit some schools in Edenton, North Carolina, and while I was driving there, I was able to be online for an NC Public School Forum meeting, and then coming back, I was able to join in for an educational policy fellows meeting,” she said, highlighting one silver lining of this experience for her.

In the interview, Stover talks about her previous experience in the U.S. Air Force, what drew her to teaching, and what it’s like to teach at an early college. She also outlines what she hopes to accomplish if selected as the National Teacher of the Year.

“I have had great success with the team that we have, the regional teachers of the year,” she said. “I have kind of an idea, and I bring it up to them, and by the end of an hour-long meeting, we have this knock it out of the park idea because I have eight other educators who are extraordinary and passionate and have just phenomenal ideas.”

“One of the things that I would really love to do, if I’m a National Teacher of the Year, is to build on that network at the national level,” Stover said.

At the end of the interview, Stover told educators across the state to remember that they’re not alone.

“We all have bad days, and we all have days right now where we’re feeling like we didn’t connect with our kids, or like nobody asked you a question on Zoom, or you only had three of your 20 students log in for something, and I think the important thing to remember is that we all are having those days and teachers are doing an incredible job,” she said.

Molly Osborne Urquhart

Molly Osborne is the vice president and director of operations for EducationNC.