Teacher of the Year Tracy Metcalf

The Moore County School System has chosen three leaders to honor for the 2020-2021 school year. The honors are for district Principal of the Year, Teacher of the Year and Alternate Teacher of the Year.

The Principal of the Year honor went to Tracy Metcalf, principal for New Century Middle School. Teacher of the Year is Elaina Aponte, exceptional childrens teacher at Elise Middle School. Alternate Teacher of the Year award went to Jessica Stroven, first-grade teacher at Pinehurst Elementary School.

Principal of the Year, Tracy Metcalf, has led instructional development, strengthened support systems in schools and worked with the business community to strengthen Career and Technical Education (CTE) programs.

Metcalf has worked with the school system to develop and review policies and procedures, and at Union Pines High School, developed a beginning teacher program. She has also developed pacing and learning tasks for American History and Civics and Economics.

Concerning the COVID-19 challenges, “I believe the work we did as a team to truly know our students and create positive relationships allowed us to meet and overcome these obstacles as well as maintain a close and supportive connection with our students during the closure.  At the beginning of the 2019-20 school year, every member of the staff identified a word that described a characteristic they brought to our team that allowed us to thrive as a community,” Metcalf said.

Metcalf resides in Whispering Pines and has been the principal at New Century Middle School since 2002.

Teacher of the Year, Elaina Aponte, led her past and current schools as Unified Champion Schools of North Carolina through Special Olympics, enabling special needs students to learn in integrated school communities.

“I believe all my students can contribute to their community in some fashion, now and when they graduate from high school,” Aponte said.

Moore County Schools Teacher of the Year

Teacher of the Year, Elaina Aponte. Contributed photo.

Aponte has united special needs students with the school community, and they have formed friendships by working together to complete a cooking or science activity.

This blending of students grew when Aponte partook in National Spread the Word to End the Word Day in March, and her school became registered as a Unified Champion School through Special Olympics. The campaign seeks the use of “R” to replace retarded.

Aponte has 25 years of experience and instructs exceptional students at Elise Middle School.

Alternate Teacher of the Year, Jessica Stroven, led the Parent Teacher Association (PTA) to raise over $60,000 to purchase Ipads and Chrome books to integrate technology into the classrooms. The funds also purchased playground cover to provide shade for students and staff.

As PTA president, Stroven unified community, family and school staff with local musical theater groups and Sandhills Farm to Table.

Alternate Teacher of the Year Jessica Stroven

Alternate Teacher of the Year, Jessica Stroven. Contributed photo.

“Jessica Stroven is a first grade teacher at Pinehurst Elementary School,” Pinehurst Elementary Principal Ashlee Ciccone said. “Jessie exemplifies the passion that drives our team at PES through her work with her students, her colleagues, her parents and our outside community. She is determined to support the whole child using both effective social emotional support for children on top of a dynamic commitment to active and creative student learning. Jessie is an advocate for public schools and not only believes in our school mission that all students learn at high levels – she lives it exuberantly! We are delighted that Jessie has been recognized for the outstanding educator she is known to be at our school.”

Each of the awarded are members of civic or community groups and churches, have lived in the area for 18 years or longer and have led their schools to achieve more in Moore County.

Feature photo: Principal of the Year Tracy Metcalf holding word card. Contributed photo.

Written by Sandhills Sentinel Journalism Intern Stephanie M. Sellers.

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