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NEWS RELEASES 2006-07 :: MAY 1, 2007


James Bell, an eighth grade English teacher at Chowan Middle School, Edenton-Chowan Public Schools, was named the 2007-08 North Carolina Teacher of the Year at a formal banquet held tonight in Cary. Bell succeeds Diana Beasley from Hickory High School, Hickory Public Schools.

State Superintendent June Atkinson made the presentation, saying "James has demonstrated excellence in classroom teaching and a strong dedication to the success of his students. He is a true representative of the many outstanding teachers from across the state who have the power and the ability to deliver strong instruction but also to inspire others to be their best."

In accepting the award, Bell said his selection as North Carolina's Teacher of the Year was as much about his students and athletes as about himself. "It is the hundreds of students that I teach, coach or just talk to every single day at Chowan Middle School. They are the real reason that I have been successful as an educator." Bell said he looked forward to representing North Carolina as "we hold ourselves to the highest standards as we strive to lift our students to achieve well beyond anyone's expectations."

Thanks to the NC Automobile Dealers Association (NCADA), the state's Teacher of the Year receives a new automobile. Under this partnership with the Public Schools of North Carolina, the NCADA also sponsored the night's dinner, activities and awards.

Doug Wilkinson Jr., chairman of the NC Automobile Dealers Association, said, "North Carolina's franchised automobile and truck dealers, through our association, NCADA, are delighted to once again sponsor the North Carolina Teacher of the Year banquet. For the eighth consecutive year, North Carolina's dealers will award the teacher a new car in appreciation of their exemplary effort, enthusiasm and dedication to the teaching profession. As an industry, we are acutely aware of the tremendous responsibility our teachers have across this state as well as the positive influence outstanding teachers can be on the future of North Carolina. It's our industry's honor to be part of the Teacher of the Year program and to help, in a small way, make North Carolina a better place for our children's children."

Bell has nine years of teaching experience, six in his current position. Professionally he is a member of the North Carolina Association of Educators (NCAE) and is currently serving as its Building Representative. He has made a number of staff development presentations including "Tricks of the Trade" for first year teachers, explicitly teaching reading strategies to middle grade students, reading strategies to be used during and after reading, reading strategies and teaming in the middle school, and using Thinking Maps while reading poetry. He is currently serving on Edenton-Chowan's System Wide Literacy Team.

He has received several awards and recognitions including the North Carolina Region One Teacher of the Year 2007-08, Edenton-Chowan Schools Teacher of the Year 2006-07, Chowan Middle School Teacher of the Year 2006-07, Albemarle Athletic Conference Coach of the Year 2006-07, and the North Carolina Region One Team of the Year 2005-06. Bell received his Bachelor of Science in English with a minor in Journalism from North Carolina Wesleyan College and his teaching certification from East Carolina University.

The state's Teacher of the Year spends the school year traveling the state as an ambassador for the teaching profession. Bell also receives a one-time $7,500 stipend, a technology package from SMARTer Kids Foundation, a trip to the International Space Camp, an international trip through the NC Center for International Understanding, and a trip to the National Teacher of the Year conference. In addition, the state Teacher of the Year serves as an advisor to the State Board of Education for two years.

The other regional finalists were:

  • North Central Region: Sonya Kiser, North Johnston High (Johnston County Schools);
  • Northwest Region: Sherrard Pearce, Mooresville Sr. High (Mooresville Graded Schools District);
  • Southeast Region: Beth Howard, Dixon Elementary (Onslow County Schools);
  • Southwest Region: Denise Andrews, North Belmont Elementary (Gaston County Schools);
  • Sandhills/South Central Region: Bridget Johnson, Vass-Lakeview Elementary (Moore County Schools);
  • Piedmont-Triad/Central Region: Shawn Watlington, Greensboro Middle College (Guilford County Schools); and
  • West Region: Jerome Hughes, Asheville High (Asheville City Schools).

For additional information, please contact the NCDPI's Communications Division at 919.807.3450.

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.