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Carmen McQueen is Whiteville’s teacher of the year


Whiteville City Schools’ board, staff and supporters honored the system’s teachers of the 2018-2019 year at the annual back-to-work breakfast Tuesday, Aug. 21, at Whiteville High School. The district’s teacher of the year was Carmen McQueen, who teaches fourth grade at Edgewood Elementary School.

McQueen begins her 25th year teaching this week. She says fourth grade “is a time in a child’s life when all the previous reading skills are put into use to learn science, history, math and everything else.”

The biggest obstacles teachers face, said McQueen, are testing stress, lack of supplies and time pressure. “I sometimes feel that I could spend 24/7 in my classroom and still not be finished,” she said. “I make a priority to use every moment of the day to be the best that I can be and remember that tomorrow I will pick right back up where I left off.”

McQueen is “inspired by individuals who overcome obstacles in their lives and become successful. I know without a doubt that there is a purpose and a fulfillment for everyone. The difficulty is finding that purpose.” She urges her students to seek a fulfilling life and “never settle.”

McQueen said she “must be outside” in her free time. She golfs, hikes, kayaks and works out as much as possible. She spends time with two nieces and one nephew. Since July 2017, McQueen has hiked in 30 of North Carolina’s state parks. 

She stayed busy this summer teaching reading and science camps. “This profession,” said McQueen, is not just a job but “a life commitment.”   

Other honorees

ν Jonnetta Brown, a first-grade teacher, was the honoree from Whiteville Primary School. First grade, said Brown, not only “lays the foundation for the students’ academic success in the grades to follow” but also gives her a chance to show “that I truly care about them and want them to succeed not only in my class but in life as well.”

Over her summer vacation, Brown spent time “making memories with my two daughters, Irianna, 12, and Kiran, 6.” They enjoyed traveling as well as hands-on educational activities and family entertainment at the N.C. Museum of Natural Sciences at Whiteville.

Brown would like other parents to remember that, “Education doesn’t have to only be provided within the classroom.”

ν “My mother inspires me,” said North Whiteville Academy English teacher Amber Meares. “She is a teacher’s assistant and has been for most of my life. Seeing the compassion she shows for her kids pushes me to do the same for mine.”

On a trip to Charlotte this summer, Meares visited the Levine Museum of the New South. She enjoyed learning more about Charlotte’s roots in the cotton industry, a history that it shares with Columbus County. While in Charlotte, she also attended performances by two of her favorite musical groups, Pentatonix and Superfruit.

Meares carried out two “Donors Choose” projects last year to obtain basic school supplies and clothing for NWA students. In her spare time, she quilts and sews, and plays with her nieces, nephew and four puppies.

νDanaysia Powell taught at Central Middle School before taking a position this summer at Southeastern Community College. As Early College liaison for Columbus Career and College Academy, she loves helping direct students toward their chosen careers.

Powell enjoys reading, singing and being with her husband and two children in her spare time. She said that she gains inspiration from her students, especially those who “push through every day to learn and grow” in spite of disabilities or difficult home lives.

ν Olivia Scott teaches earth and environmental science to all Whiteville High School freshmen. Scott likes getting to know her students’ interests so that she can relate their learning to real life circumstances. “I am reminded daily that I am blessed to be able to be a part of a young adult’s life and that I play a vital role in preparing them for their future.”

With an active 3-year-old son, Scott spends most of her free time “in the backyard or on the field.” She coaches WHS’ successful girls softball team and has been named county female coach of the year two years in a row.  

Stuart Rogers