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NEWS RELEASES 1996-97 :: APRIL 29, 1997


Julian L. "Monty" Coggins Jr., a biology teacher at Mount Pleasant High School in Cabarrus County, was named the 1997-98 North Carolina Teacher of the Year, at a luncheon today in Raleigh.

State Superintendent Mike Ward named the new North Carolina Teacher of the Year, saying that teachers are the most important factor in quality education.

"When students and parents are asked what is important in a quality education, teachers are at the top of their list," Ward said. "I am so pleased that North Carolina is able to honor its best teachers each year through one of the nation's finest Teacher of the Year programs."

"Monty Coggins represents the many excellent teachers in North Carolina. We look forward to his influence as the State Teacher of the Year. I am sure he will represent North Carolina well in the National Teacher of the Year competition," he said.

As state Teacher of the Year, Monty Coggins will represent North Carolina in the National Teacher of the Year competition. He succeeds Richard Scott Griffin, a fifth grade teacher at Ida Rankin Elementary School in Gaston County. Three North Carolina teachers have been selected as the National Teacher of the Year since 1970. They were James Rogers, Durham City Schools, in 1972; Ruby Murchison, Fayetteville City Schools, in 1976; and Donna Oliver, Burlington City Schools in 1986.

Coggins has taught for 17 years, four in his present position. At Mount Pleasant, Coggins teaches Biology I and II, AP Biology and Biochemistry. Professionally, Coggins is involved in his school as a member of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Staff Development Committee and of the Cabarrus County Mentoring Committee. He also is a mentor teacher and frequent presenter of local staff development.

Coggins is a member of the National Association of Science Teachers, the North Carolina Association of Science Teachers, the Local Physics Alliance, the National Association of Educators and the North Carolina Association of Educators.

Coggins holds a bachelor of science degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and a master of arts degree from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.

A statewide panel selected the Teacher of the Year after interviews with the six finalists, visits to their classrooms and interviews with their colleagues and students. The state Teacher of the Year spends the school year traveling the state as a spokesperson for the teaching profession. Also, the Teacher of the Year serves a two-year term as advisor to the State Board of Education.

The six Teacher of the Year finalists serve as recruiters for new teachers in North Carolina, as well as in other capacities throughout the year.

The other finalists are:

  • Western Region - Wanda L. Fernandez, first grade teacher, Jonathan Valley Elementary School, Haywood County;
  • Northwest Region - Michael I. Shaw, seventh grade integrated science, Chestnut Grove Middle School, Stokes County;
  • Central Region - Cynthia Cole Rigsbee, seventh grade language arts teacher, Brogden Middle School, Durham Public Schools;
  • Northeast Region - Catherine Soomsawasdi Allen, biology teacher, Hertford County High School;
  • Southeast Region - Vicki Chapman Collins, English III and SAT Preparation, Jacksonville High School, Onslow County.

About the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction:
The North Carolina Department of Public Instruction provides leadership to 115 local public school districts and 126 charter schools serving over 1.5 million students in kindergarten through high school graduation. The agency is responsible for all aspects of the state's public school system and works under the direction of the North Carolina State Board of Education.

For more information:
NCDPI Communication and Information Division, 919.807.3450.