New Hope's Amanda Evans named Teacher of the Year; Jennifer Lewis of Rock Ridge named top principal

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Wilson County Schools named the district's teacher and principal of the year Thursday night at its annual banquet honoring the brightest stars in the school system.

Amanda Evans, of New Hope Elementary School, was named 2017-18 Wilson County Schools Teacher of the Year.

Jennifer Lewis, of Rock Ridge Elementary School, was named 2017-18 Wilson County Schools Principal of the Year.

Evans is beginning her third-year as a teacher at New Hope Elementary School and is in her 18th year as an educator.

Hope Whitley, a reading intervention teacher support teacher at Stantonsburg Elementary School and the 2016-17 Wilson County Schools Teacher of the Year, made the presentation to Evans along with Christine Fitch, chairwoman of the Wilson County Board of Education, Lane Mills, superintendent of Wilson County Schools, and Robin Williams, executive director of Wilson Education Partnership.

"She believes that in order to be an effective teacher, she must integrate creativity, passion, modeling and relevance into every lesson," Whitley said of Evans. "She has the highest of expectations and will not move on to the next assignment until all of her students understand the concept they are working on. She teaches with the future in mind to ensure that all of her students become lifelong learners who independently and actively monitor their own learning."

In receiving the award, Evans said it was an honor and a pleasure to be standing before the 100 attendees at the event as the 2017-18 Wilson County Schools Teacher of the Year. 

"I am excited about what is ahead this year and the new things that I will be embarking on," Evans said. "Teaching is a passion for me. I am a lifelong learner and that is what I want my students to be. I just love learning. The things that I do in my classroom, I am very enthusiastic about them and I think because of that, my students feed off of that. I have high expectations for them and they really take to that."

As winner, Evans receives $500 from both Wilson County Schools and the Wilson Education Partnership for a total of $1,000. Evans also received a one-year lease of a car from Vester Auto Group and $2,000 from Wells Fargo for classroom use.

Evans was one of three finalists for the designation, including Amy Evans, who is in her 11th year as a third-grade teacher a Rock Ridge Elementary School and 19th year as an educator and Michelle Bass, in her second year as a ninth-grade teacher at the Wilson Academy of Applied Technology and her 13th year as an educator. Finalists received $100 from both the school district and WEP for a total of $200.

The county-level teacher of the year candidate was chosen from among 26 school-level teachers of the year, who included Marketo Hargrove, Darden Middle School; Karen Reaves, Beddingfield High School; Rosslyn Waddell, Barnes Elementary School; Dana Skinner, Forest Hills Middle School; Kathryn Jackson, Fike High School; Bonnie Snedeker, Elm City Middle School; Sonja Hayes, Elm City Elementary School; Christina Skinner, Jones Elementary School; Sophia Stevens, Hunt High School; Tanya Arrington, Hearne Elementary School; Margarita Haitema, Garders Elementary School; Amy Evans, Rock Ridge Elementary School; Amanda Evans, New Hope Elementary School; Lesley Pittman, Lucama Elementary School; Kristina Stark, Lee Woodard Elementary School; Vickie Pollard, Toisnot Middle School; Sandi Webb, Stantonsburg Elementary School; Katherine Alphin, Springfield Middle School; Irene Dekeyser, Speight Middle School; Michelle Bass, Wilson Academy of Applied Technology; Craigie Wells, Wells Elementary School; Lauren Hong, Vinson-Bynum Elementary School; Tiketa Jones, Vick Elementary School, Stacy Bohne-Jones, Winstead Elementary School; and Katrice Brown, Wilson Early College Academy.

Rock Ridge Elementary School Principal Jennifer Lewis was presented the award as the 2017-18 Wilson County Schools Principal of the Year.

The presentation was made by Valerie Budd, principal of Speight Middle School and Wilson County Schools Principal of the Year for the 2016-17.

Lewis is in her eighth year as  principal of Rock Ridge Elementary School and her 11th year as an administrator.

Budd called Lewis "a remarkable role model."

"She sets high expectations for her students and her staff," Budd said in describing Lewis. "She cares and creates a genuine culture of learning. She is an inspirational leader who knows and understands curriculum and effective instruction. She encourages cooperation between all stakeholders and promotes parent involvement. She is a remarkable role model who is always visible and accessible. Ms. Lewis led Rock Ridge to a national Blue Ribbon status in 2015 and was asked to present at the national conference last school year."

Lewis said she was completely humbled and honored to be chosen to represent Wilson County. 

"I'm doing this for the whole county and I couldn't be here where I am without the support of the Rock Ridge community, the staff and students and everybody in Wilson County so I'm just completely honored," Lewis said. "This Jersey girl came down to Wilson County, North Carolina 25 years ago and never expected this in a million years."

Lewis thanked her husband, the other educators and members of the Rock Ridge community.

"Children are a part of our everyday lives and the things that we do every day are extraordinary. The things that my colleagues and teachers do and extraordinary things every day," Lewis said. "I would like to accept this award on behalf of my school, staff, students, the Rock Ridge community. I challenge all of you to make a difference  in a child's life because that's what we're all here for."  

Lewis also received $500 as winner from both Wilson County Schools and the Wilson Education Partnership for a total of $1,000.

Eddie Doll, who is in his fourth year as principal of Hunt High School and his 13th year as a school administrator, was a finalist as principal of the year. Doll received $100 each from the school district and WEP for a total of $200.

The process of selecting the teacher of the year and principal of the year is overseen by the Wilson County Schools Organizational Development Department. A panel of judges selected three finalists based on portfolios, interviews and school visits.