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The Brunswick Board of Education has added a $2,000 performance bonus to the Teacher of the Year award.
But they expect more than a thank you in return.
School board member John Thompson proposed the monetary award after witnessing the past two Teacher of the Year recipients, Melissa Warren in 2011 and Laura Hunter in 2012, work tirelessly to represent their fellow teachers, often attending as many meetings as he does as an elected official.
“Our Teachers of the Year have always been great people,” Thompson said, “but the position has really come alive and added to the conversation between the board and our teachers.”
Thompson said the idea of a stipend occurred to him because he felt the work current TOY Hunter, a South Brunswick High School social studies teacher, is doing to bring teachers’ issues to the board deserved more than just recognition.
Hunter has re-established a program to address teacher issues called Teachers’ Voices.
“We all recognize the value that has been brought to us through the Teacher of the Year (program), particularly the idea to extend the Teachers’ Voice,” Thompson said. “It occurs to me, the board has little to do with the formal recognition of the Brunswick County Teacher of the Year.”
For the past 20 years the Brunswick County Association of Educators has named a teacher of the year for each school in the county, then selected one teacher to represent the county regionally and statewide.
Teachers who are in the running for the distinction of being named Brunswick County Teacher of the Year undergo an intensive judging process.
Each teacher submitted a portfolio and attended lengthy interviews with a selection committee consisting of a student, a parent, retired educators and more.
Thompson proposed the county board join the BCAE in recognizing the contribution the Teacher of the Year makes to the county by presenting the county TOY with a bonus.
“I move we approve a $2,000 stipend, beginning with the current Teacher of the Year, in support of the Teacher of the Year program, in recognition of the contributions the teacher of the year makes to the school system and the board’s relationship to the professional staff,” he said.
Thompson said he chose the amount based on the $2,000 the regional Teacher of the Year award provides to help pay for expenses. Warren was named regional TOY, which covers 16 counties, last year.
“I felt it was a pretty good number because ours is such a large county. It probably barely covers her mileage,” Thompson said. “It’s a number that sends a strong signal of support but is reasonable by providing for transportation to all the things they attend.”
School board chairman Charlie Miller agreed with the idea, as long as the Teacher of the Year continues to provide the type of continual feedback the board receives from Hunter.
Hunter provides the board with a monthly update of teachers’ issues with a Teachers’ Voice report at each school board meeting.
“I expect the type of commitment she has made,” Miller said.
School board members voted unanimously, 5-0, to provide the $2,000 stipend to the current and future county teacher of the year.
“We want teachers to know we value their effort to try to become the teacher of the year,” Thompson said.
Brian Slattery is a staff writer for The Brunswick Beacon. Reach him at 754-6890 or firstname.lastname@example.org.