LCPS honors three EC department staffers

LCPS honors three EC department staffers

The Exceptional Children Department of Lenoir County Public Schools honored three staffers as its 2019-20 Teacher of the Year and Teacher Assistants of the Year on Friday at the department’s annual opening day gathering.

Long-time special needs teacher Gail Jernigan of North Lenoir High School was honored as EC Teacher of the Year and, in a decision so difficult it resulted in co-winners, Kaye Hardison of Northeast Elementary School and Marla Lawson of Contentnea-Savannah K-8 School were named EC Teacher Assistants of the Year.

Department director Julie Hill called Jernigan “one of the most caring, compassionate teachers I have known. She will go beyond the call of duty to make a student successful. She is a wonderful advocate for students and works hard to help make them feel special.”

LCPS 2019-2020 Exceptional Children Teacher of the Year Gail Jernigan of North Lenoir High School, center, accepts the award presented her Friday during EC opening day activities. She’s flanked by department director Julie Hill, right, and Lynn Heath, EC coordinator. On the back row, from left, are Superintendent Brent Williams, North Lenoir principal Gil Respess, Assistant Superintendent Nicholas Harvey II and Brian Yarbrough, a North Lenoir assistant principal.

Marla Lawson of Contentnea-Savannah K-8 School displays her award as an Exceptional Children Teacher Assistant of the Year for 2019-2020 along with, from left, front row, Lynn Heath, EC coordinator; Rhonda Greene, CSS principal; and Julie Hill, EC director; back row, Michael Moon, CSS assistant principal, Superintendent Brent Williams and Assistant Superintendent Nicholas Harvey II.

Kaye Hardison, center, of Northeast Elementary School was named an Exceptional Children Teacher Assistant of the Year for 2019-2020. Presenting her with the award are, from left, front, EC coordinator Lynn Heath and department director Julie Hill; back row, Superintendent Brent Williams and Assistant Superintendent Nicholas Harvey II.

Jernigan delayed college for work out of high school but soon earned a degree in psychology from North Carolina Wesleyan and landed a position at Caswell Center, where she stayed for five years. She joined LCPS as a lateral entry teacher at South Lenoir High School and added bachelor and master’s degrees in special education from East Carolina University.

She later transferred to North Lenoir High and also taught for a short time in Duplin County.

Hardison joined LCPS in 1997 as a teacher assistant at Savannah Middle School and later moved to Northeast Elementary.

“She is wonderful with children and they adore her,” Hill said. “She is the kind of teacher assistant who sees something that needs to be done and takes care of it.”

Lawson joined the staff at Contentnea-Savannah in 2016 after working for a dozen years at Northwest Elementary School.

“She makes parents of special needs students feel at ease,” Hill said, “and she has a special way of calming students down when they are upset.”

The three awards were presented last week before 150 of the honorees’ colleagues who were gathered at the Kinston Community Center for EC orientation prior to the beginning of the school year.

The day-long session was highlight by remarks from Superintendent Brent Williams; by James Nuernberg of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, who told the story of a rebellious student — himself — who spent time in EC classes before finding himself in college; and by Greg Hannibal, director of Lenoir Community College’s Small Business Center, who has persevered through a mishap that left him paralyzed to resume his career.






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