Raleigh, N.C. — Rene Herrick, a fourth-grade teacher at Combs Elementary School, was honored Thursday night as the Wake County Public School System’s Teacher of the Year.
Herrick has been teaching for five years, the past three at Combs Elementary. She and her husband, who is also a teacher, tutor students after school and take part in student recognition by bringing students on outings to the movies and restaurants.
Herrick says building a relationship with students has always been a top priority for her.
“I realized early in my educational career that when I developed a genuinely caring and lovingly disciplined environment for my students, they always performed at their highest academic levels and loved coming to school each day,” said Herrick. “I demand excellence from my students and I demonstrate disciplined excellence in my instruction.”
Superintendent Del Burns praised Herrick for her data-driven classroom instruction and for her active involvement in the lives of her students.
Parent Dr. Janice Buckner says Herrick truly cares about her students.
“Mrs. Herrick brought her parents to my daughter’s piano recital,” Buckner said. “She and her husband attended a swim meet the summer after our daughter graduated, then they both attended the Christmas program at our church in December in which both of our daughters were singing. Mrs. Herrick is truly remarkable in the way she cultivates relationships with the children.”
As the Wake County Teacher of the Year, she will represent Wake County in the North Carolina Teacher of the Year competition. She succeeds Ann Quarles, a Powell Elementary School teacher and the 2008 Wake County Teacher of the Year.
As Teacher of the Year, she will receive:
- an engraved acrylic award
- a laptop computer and multi-function printer, compliments of Office Depot
- one-year use of a 2009 Saturn, compliments of Bill Shotwell of Saturn of Raleigh/Cary
- a travel cart filled with office supplies from Office Depot
- a check for $1,000 from corporate sponsors
- The Dan Royster Teacher award, $2,000 toward participation in the Center for International Understanding's Global Study Program, compliments of The Center for International Understanding.
The Dan Royster Teacher award was established as a tribute and memorial to Royster, a Wake County science teacher and enthusiastic international-exchange participant. The award is funded through contributions from his family and friends.
Candidates for teacher of the year are nominated and elected by their peers. The teacher candidates develop portfolios that describe their teaching careers and philosophy of teaching.
Ten selection committees review the portfolios and narrow the field to 24 semifinalists, the school system said. The selection committees observe the semifinalists in their classrooms, and each committee chooses one teacher to be among the 12 finalists.
The finalists are interviewed by another committee. Based upon the quality of the portfolio and the interview, the schools explained, the interview committee chooses the winner by secret ballot.
The other finalists for this year’s award were:
- Carla Tuttle of Panther Creek High
- Julia Robertson of Green Elementary
- Mark Townley of Holly Springs High
- Shana Broders of Wake Forest Elementary
- Heather Dinkenor of Leesville Road High
- Michelle Holt of Cary Elementary
- Arlie Harris of Moore Square Museum Middle
- Jaime Warkonyi of Stough Elementary
- Caroline Valentine of Knightdale High
- Judith Darling of Middle Creek High
- Colleen Kanters of Penny Road Elementary
The 11 other finalists received a $250 cash prize, a travel cart of classroom and office supplies and an engraved acrylic award.
This was the sixth year that Wachovia Bank sponsored the Wake County Teacher of the Year Award and banquet.