Teacher of the Year Jennifer Sutton sees compassion as key to success
LCPS Teacher of the Year for 2019-2020 Jennifer Sutton of La Grange Elementary School receives her award from Superintendent Brent Williams, left, and Keith King, chair of the Lenoir County Board of Education. The Teacher of the Year announcement was made during the district’s annual Employee Recognition Banquet on Thursday evening. Photo by Patrick Holmes / LCPS
Jennifer Sutton of La Grange Elementary School, a veteran educator who feels compassion is the key to reaching students, was named LCPS Teacher of the Year for 2019-2020 during the district’s annual Employee Recognition Banquet on Thursday night.
Sutton was honored along with 17 others named as Teacher of the Year at their schools, including two chosen as finalists for the district award, during a dinner that also saw LCPS celebrate its Principal of the Year, its Teacher Assistant of the Year and its Custodian of the Year.
With the winners of the other awards previously announced, the suspense of the evening centered on the Teacher of the Year announcement. In brief remarks to the crowd of more than 200, Sutton and fellow finalists Britni Davis of Banks Elementary School and Savannah McIntyre of Kinston High School each revealed something about what motivates them as teachers. Students are at the heart of their work, they all said.
“Over the years as a veteran teacher I have gained valuable experience,” Sutton said. “One of the things I can say that I have truly learned and try to implement is this: let your students know how much you care about them. Show your students some compassion. They will work so much harder for you when you show them you care about them and their interests. In the end we may be one of the few people in their lives they can depend on and they will not forget that.”
A second-grade teacher at La Grange, Sutton began her career as a computer teacher 22 years ago after earning undergraduate and graduate degrees in business and marketing education. She spent 10 years at Northwest Elementary before moving to La Grange after a short stint with Wayne County schools. At La Grange, she is grade chair, a member of the School Improvement Team, a mentor for beginning teachers and a clinical teacher for interns from East Carolina University.
She became a National Board Certified Teacher in 2010 and was previously chosen as La Grange’s Teacher of the Year for 2010-2011.
As the district’s 2019-2020 representative, Sutton will participate in the selection process for Southeast Region Teacher of the Year in December. Regional winners compete for state Teacher of the Year.
Sutton, Davis and McIntyre were chosen as district finalists by a panel of judges – comprised of district administrators and staff – who interviewed all 18 school representatives and reviewed portfolios describing their education history, their professional biography and philosophy of teaching. The same panel conducted classroom observations of the finalists.
“These honorees not only represent fine role models for others in this business, but also they represent all that educators ought to be, what all human beings ought to be – giving of themselves through pure love for helping our young people move forward,” Superintendent Brent Williams said in closing remarks.
Also recognized were Principal of the Year Stacy Cauley of Moss Hill Elementary School, Teacher Assistant of the Year Deirone Davis of Kinston High School and Custodian of the Year Kenneth Suggs of Rochelle Middle School.