To access Quick Links, visit our text-only version.

. Public Schools of North Carolina . . State Board of Education . . Department Of Public Instruction .


NEWS RELEASES 2008-09 :: MAY 5, 2009


Jessica Garner, a Spanish teacher at Porter Ridge High School, Union County Schools, was named the 2009-10 AT&T North Carolina Teacher of the Year at an awards ceremony held tonight in Raleigh. Garner succeeds Cindi Rigsbee from Gravelly Hills Middle School, Orange County Schools.

Chairman and CEO of the State Board of Education Bill Harrison said, "No one works harder to give students the skills they need to succeed beyond high school than our public school teachers. We are so fortunate to have talented educators like Jessica to entrust with this critical task. I look forward to learning from her expertise and working with her while she serves as an advisor to the State Board."

State Superintendent June Atkinson said, "Jessica's enthusiasm for foreign language and culture is a wonderful gift she shares with her students. Her professionalism, sincerity and passion make her a model whom teachers across North Carolina will have the pleasure of learning from over the coming year. She embodies all that is great about the teaching profession."

In accepting the award, Garner said that she believes that what she does has an impact on the future. "I have the ability to affect positive change in lives of my students every day. What an amazing job," said Garner. "I am so honored to share in this challenge and honored to be chosen to represent the wonderful teachers of the state of North Carolina."

AT&T officials joined state educational leaders in announcing the 2009-10 North Carolina Teacher of the Year. This is the second year AT&T has sponsored the state's recognition program, the most prestigious honor for North Carolina teachers.

Cynthia Marshall, president of AT&T North Carolina, said, "Education is the key to a bright future for every young person and it is the classroom teacher who passes on that key. Through creative use of technologies and techniques, a love of learning and a genuine concern for students, outstanding teachers across this state help young people begin to fulfill their potential and achieve their dreams. We are proud to be the title sponsor of the North Carolina Teacher of the Year award and to encourage those educators who are literally changing young lives every day."

Garner has been a public school teacher for 11 years and has spent the last four years teaching at Porter Ridge High. In addition, she has taught in schools in Indianapolis, Indiana and Woodstock, Virginia. Garner is a member of the Foreign Language Association of North Carolina.

She has presented at the annual conference for the Foreign Language Association of North Carolina as well as various county-level staff development and curriculum workshops. Garner helped the Union County Curriculum Coordinator create the Spanish Resources for Parents and Students Web site.

At the school level, she has served as the foreign language department chair at Porter Ridge High since 2005 and is co-sponsor of the Spanish Club. She worked with the guidance department to develop the "Noche de Voces Latinas" or "Night of Latin Voices," a program which has encouraged Latino students and their parents to visit the school and talk with guidance counselors and teachers. Garner earned a grant to purchase interactive software for foreign language classrooms and started the Advanced Placement Spanish program at Porter Ridge High. She has taken students to Costa Rica, Spain and Italy.

Garner spends time assisting new educators. She has served as a teacher mentor in Porter Ridge High School for three years and assists school leaders with teacher recruitment and training efforts.

Garner earned her Bachelor of Arts in Modern Foreign Language from James Madison University and her Master of Education in Curriculum and Instruction from Indiana Wesleyan University. She has studied abroad at the University of Salamanca in Spain.

The AT&T North Carolina Teacher of the Year will spend the school year traveling the state as an ambassador for the teaching profession. In addition, she will receive a personal automobile, an engraved plaque, a one-time cash award of $7,500, a trip to the National Teacher of the Year conference, the opportunity to travel abroad through an endowment at the North Carolina Center for International Understanding, and a technology package valued at over $14,000 from the SmarterKids Foundation. She will serve as an advisor to the State Board of Education for two years.

The other regional finalists were:

North CentralMatthew Bristow-SmithTarboro HighEdgecombe County Schools
NortheastGina BeamanCreekside ElementaryPitt County Schools
NorthwestRobert TurnerGrandview MiddleHickory Public Schools
Southeast Nicole Murray James Kenan School of EngineeringDuplin County Schools
Piedmont-Triad/Central Region Phillip Little Northwood High Chatham County Schools
Sandhills/South Central Martha Anderson Washington Street Elementary Richmond County Schools
West Jo Peterson Gibbs Asheville Middle Asheville City Schools
Charter Schools John Hall ArtSpace Charter Buncombe County

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.