Durham charter school teacher, eight others competing for NC Teacher of the Year

Posted February 8, 2019 12:22 p.m. EST
Updated February 8, 2019 12:54 p.m. EST

— Nine teachers from across North Carolina have been selected as the state’s regional Teachers of the Year. They will now compete for the title of 2019 Burroughs Wellcome Fund North Carolina Teacher of the Year.

The winner will succeed the 2018 Teacher of the Year, Freebird McKinney, a history and philosophy teacher at Walter Williams High in the Alamance-Burlington School System.

The 2019 North Carolina Regional Teachers of the Year are:

  • Northeast: Damon Walcott, Washington High (Beaufort County Schools)
  • Southeast: Christy Howe, Bradley Creek Elementary (New Hanover County Schools)
  • North Central: C.R. “Katie” Eddings, Lee County High (Lee County Schools)
  • Sandhills: Mariah Morris, West Pine Elementary (Moore County Schools)
  • Piedmont-Triad: Shiela Patterson, South Stokes High (Stokes County Schools)
  • Southwest: Kate Culbreth, Wolf Meadow Elementary (Cabarrus County Schools)
  • Northwest: Laura Brooks, Wilkes Central High (Wilkes County Schools)
  • Western: Caesar Campana IV, Hayesville High (Clay County Schools)
  • Charter schools: Douglas Price, Voyager Academy, (Durham)

The 2019 Teacher of the Year will be announced April 12 at an awards ceremony in Cary. The state has recognized outstanding teachers through its Teacher of the Year program since 1970.

McKinney, the current NC Teacher of the Year, calls himself "a village teacher" and says he grew up wanting to be a hero: a Jedi knight, or Indiana Jones, or someone from a fantasy book. Instead, he found his calling.

"Walk the path of the dragon slayer," McKinney said. "My dragon is ignorance."

McKinney has been a teacher since 2004. He is spending this school year on a sabbatical of sorts, traveling North Carolina as an ambassador for teaching and going to Mexico as part of an endowment sponsored by Go Global NC. He is also serving as an adviser to the State Board of Education.