Vance County Schools hosted its “Leadership Celebration” in McGregor Hall last night and announced the selection of Linwood Swann of Eaton-Johnson Middle School as the school system’s 2016-2017 Teacher of the Year, Crystal Richardson of Clarke Elementary School as the 2016-2017 Principal of the Year and Joy Suther of Dabney Elementary School as the 2016-2017 Assistant Principal of the Year.
Approximately 120 school officials, educators, family members and other invited guests attended the event, which was held in the McGregor Gallery between the Perry Memorial Library and McGregor Hall performing arts center on Breckenridge Street in Henderson.
Nominees for each of the three district awards were honored individually and presented with gifts by Gloria J. White, chairwoman of the Vance County Board of Education, and Superintendent Anthony D. Jackson. Assisting them in the presentations were Robin Wilson of New Hope Elementary and 2015-2016 Teacher of the Year; Heddie Somerville of Pinkston Street Elementary and 2015-2016 Principal of the Year; and David Cooper of Aycock Elementary and 2015-2016 Assistant Principal of the Year.
Swann was selected from an outstanding field of 16 top teachers in the district who each serve as their school’s Teacher of the Year. Each received a commemorative gift from the school system for their recognition and Swann was presented with a 2017 Toyota Camry, which is generously provided by Dave Genetti and his dealership, Toyota of Henderson. Swann will drive the vehicle for the next year as the district’s Teacher of the Year.
Swann is an English/language arts teacher at Eaton-Johnson Middle School, where he has worked as a faculty member since August of 2010. He began his career in teaching in 2007 with Brunswick County Schools. He has been a leader among the faculty members at Eaton-Johnson since he began work at the school. Swann is very involved in extra-curricular activities for students, as well. He notes that his teaching philosophy is two-fold.
“As well as advancing children’s learning toward the achievement of academic excellence, I believe in promoting the development of their character,” Swann writes. “I work to achieve this by applying creative and dynamic teaching techniques that take into consideration curricular objectives, learners’ needs, diverse learning styles and teacher modeling. I aim to develop a rich resource of expertise, experience and materials that, when effectively put to use, motivate and engage my students.
“I feel it necessary to create a collaborative relationship between the home and the school, so we can work more effectively toward a common goal,” he added. “Personally, I want to approach educational challenges with optimism to ensure continual improvement and growth as a lifelong learner, continually acquiring and developing new knowledge and skills to benefit my students.”
Swann was joined as a nominee for the district Teacher of the Year honor by: Edward Ortega of Aycock Elementary; Lavonda Williams of Carver Elementary; Shannon Bullock of Clarke Elementary; Jacqueline Creech of Dabney Elementary; Robin Young of New Hope Elementary; Cheryl Jones of Pinkston Street Elementary; Susan Nutt of E.M. Rollins Elementary; Yvonne Woolfolk of L.B. Yancey Elementary; Christina Welch of E.O. Young Jr. Elementary; Ann Hanson of Zeb Vance Elementary; Adith Williams-White of Henderson Middle; Lynn Conlee of STEM Early High; Joannie Aldridge of Northern Vance High; Amy Simpson of Southern Vance High; and Brian Parrish of Vance County Early College High.
Richardson was among three nominees for the district’s Principal of the Year. Additional nominees honored were Kristen Boyd of Aycock Elementary School and Stephanie Ayscue of Southern Vance High School.
Richardson has been the principal of Clarke Elementary since 2012. She has been in education for 28 years and worked all of that time in Vance County Schools. Prior to becoming principal at Clarke, she was the principal at New Hope Elementary School for one year. She also served as an assistant principal at Clarke Elementary School, Clark Street Elementary School and Henderson Middle School. Richardson was an eighth-grade social studies teacher at Henderson Middle for 14 years before moving into administration.
Under Richardson’s leadership, Clarke Elementary has made significant academic gains over the last few years. She notes in her philosophy of instructional leadership, “As principal, it’s crucial to provide effective resources for my staff as well as their request in some instances to need additional resources to achieve effective teaching for a conducive learning environment. During our instructional meetings or workshops, it has been important to stress communication as the key element and/or belief that all students are capable of learning regardless of their weaknesses or disabilities. Also, with equipping students and teachers with the sufficient resources, it creates empowerment, motivation and inspiration for both parties. However, from a leadership perspective the ultimate goal is trust in a manner of complete investment in the learning process along with an effective and dedicated staff.”
In addition to Suther, Dr. Jacqueline Batchelor Crosson, now assistant principal at Pinkston Street and L.B. Yancey elementary schools, also was nominated for the district’s Assistant Principal of the Year award. She was nominated for her work last year while serving as assistant principal at New Hope Elementary, in addition to Pinkston Street.
Suther has approximately 20 years of experience in education, with almost all of her time spent with Vance County Schools. She has served as the assistant principal at Dabney Elementary for the last two school years. Prior to joining the Dabney administrative staff, she was an assistant principal at Pinkston Street and E.O. Young Jr. elementary schools. Suther has spent most of her career in education as an elementary school teacher. She has taught at both E.M. Rollins and Zeb Vance elementary schools in Vance County.
At Dabney, Suther stresses that her role is to support Dr. Michael Putney, the school’s principal, all faculty and staff members and the students as they work together to achieve academic excellence. Suther says she takes particular pride in working directly with teachers, especially in kindergarten through second grade, to use innovative strategies and technology to enhance classroom instruction. She says she is always looking for new approaches to assist teachers in all grade levels to effectively reach every child with daily instruction, to assess student achievement and use available data to determine how to help students be successful.Image Information: Linwood Swann of Eaton-Johnson Middle School, center, accepts the 2016-2017 VCS Teacher of the Year plaque from Superintendent Anthony D. Jackson and Board Chair Gloria J. White.