The Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools Core Awards winners are (from left): Samantha Fitzgerald, Assistant Principal of the Year; Sandra Shropshire, Classified Employee of the Year; Debra Gladstone, Principal of the Year; and Abi Woodson, Teacher of the Year.

Our congratulations to Abi Woodson, a fourth-grade teacher at Speas Elementary School who has been selected as the recipient of the 2019 teacher of the year award for Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools. The honor is well-deserved and we hope everyone who knows her will express their appreciation for her hard work and dedication.

We also hope our readers will sit up and take notice of a consummate professional, one of many who work to educate our children and prepare them for prosperous and productive futures.

Woodson has been teaching for 15 years and has been at Speas since 2012, the Journal’s Fran Daniel reported recently. Carrie French of Moore Elementary and Nicole Wooten of Caleb’s Creek Elementary were the other two finalists.

Woodson grew up in Charlotte. She earned her bachelor’s degree in education from UNC-Chapel Hill in 2002 and later earned her master’s degree in special education from UNC-Greensboro. She began her teaching career as a third-grade teacher in Charlotte before moving here in 2012.

Teaching runs in her family. Her mother, Linda Hege, was a teacher assistant and her brother, Abe Hege, is the principal of Fairview Elementary School in Guilford County.

Woodson is both honored and grateful to receive the award, according to school communication specialist Kim Underwood. At the same time, she knows she is just one of countless teachers doing their best to serve their students.

“I am one face of many,” Woodson said.

“I am very happy in the classroom,” she said. “Every day is a new day. Every day is unexpected.”

Woodson’s award was announced at a banquet on May 23, along with awards for Debra Gladstone, principal of the year, who leads Mineral Springs Elementary and Middle schools; Samantha Fitzgerald, assistant principal of the year, of Lewisville Elementary; and Sandra Shropshire, classified employee of the year, who is a financial/lead secretary at East Forsyth High School. Our congratulations to all of the winners.

Known as the “Core Awards,” they’re awarded on the basis of our school district’s core values: equity, student-centered, accountability, integrity, high expectations and collaboration.

We appreciate that the school system organizes and executes this awards program; it’s one small bit of recognition for a group of professionals who deserve much, much more. They work long hours, in and out of the classroom. They give their time, often their own money, and their hearts to the community’s children. And today’s societal climate calls on them to be much more than teachers. They are often counselors, providers and protectors. As our state legislature wrestles this week with pay raises and benefits for our educators, no proposal offers what they fully deserve. Legislators would do well to keep in mind the importance of recruiting and retaining such talent and dedication — and the importance of providing a good education for our children. For the future of our state, there can be no better investment.

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