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Wake, Durham name teachers of the year

Posted May 9, 2013

Luke Miles, a social studies teacher at Durant Road Middle School, was named Wake County Teacher of the Year on Thursday.

Miles was chosen from 12 finalists, who were honored at a banquet Thursday evening. He was recognized as a leader in using technology in the classroom.

“Luke Miles is a third-generation teacher,” Interim Superintendent Stephen Gainey said in a statement. “His father and grandparents taught. From them he learned the importance of teaching academics, as well as the importance of caring for our students, listening to them and treating them with kindness and consideration.”

Miles engages students with music and short, content-driven videos to help them learn. Principal Drew Sawyer said Miles is passionate about the learning process.

"What makes him different is his innovation and calculated risk taking which reap tremendous results and rewards from his students," he said in a statement. "Whether it's the use of music to enhance a topic or pioneering the flipped model of instruction in the content area of social studies, Mr. Miles is constantly pushing and challenging the boundaries of teaching and learning."

Miles was given $1,000 and several prizes, including a digital camera, gym membership and a $2,500 award to participate in a global studies program in Germany.

Durham Public Schools also recognized its teacher of the year Thursday. Cynthia Watkins, a 22-year veteran educator who has taught for three years at Spring Valley Elementary School, earned the honor.

“Mrs. Watkins exemplifies the qualities a principal looks for in a teacher: creativity, dedication, a love of learning, mastery of content and a true commitment to excellence,” Spring Valley elementary principal Barbara Parker said in a statement. “In her three years at Spring Valley, she has made a significant impact on student learning within her grade level as well as school-wide.”

Watkins is active with the Durham Partnership for Children, which meets monthly to discuss ways to enrich program standards for incoming kindergarteners.

“When I come in and I look at those faces each and every day and see the potential there, that’s why I teach,” Watkins said in a statement. “It doesn’t matter what has happened to me on the way to work or before I come to work. When I walk through the doors, it’s exciting every day to see them learn and grow.”

Watkins was given $1,000 during a banquet Thursday night.

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  • JustOneGodLessThanU May 10, 2013

    Congratulations. Teaching is the most important job in the world and, at least in the United States, often the least appreciated.

    Keep up the great work! Your altruism is awesome.