Why this matters: ASC seeks to engage all residents in participating in a vibrant cultural life and create pathways to opportunity. By recognizing exceptional teachers, ASC is promoting pathways to opportunities and increased social capital for all students in the region.
By Amy Mitchell
“What can I do in my classroom to enrich and enhance the curriculum, so every child will have equal access to a quality education through a creative, hands-on and individualized environment?” This question guides Debbie Faulkner’s teaching philosophy and it’s why her students enjoy learning in her classroom.
Faulkner is a former dance instructor turned elementary school teacher. It was through her passion for the arts that led her to an arts integration specialist role, forever impacting her approach in the classroom.
Now a second grade teacher at Larne Elementary School in York County, South Carolina, Faulkner believes that through the arts her students have the opportunity to learn joyfully. She finds innovative ways to infuse the curriculum with engaging activities that focus on creativity, and her students appreciate her artistic approach.
“I have seen it with my own eyes, over and over again,” explains Faulkner of why she incorporates movement, hands-on activities and the arts into each lesson, “integrating the arts positively impacts student discipline, self-confidence and academic achievement.”
This approach to teaching is why Faulkner is being recognized this month as a Cato Excellence in Teaching Honoree, along with five more teachers from the region.
Through the Cato Excellence in Teaching Awards, ASC is able to recognize those teachers who use the arts, sciences and history as a tool to spark engagement and understanding. The annual award, established with a generous gift from The Cato Corporation, recognizes teachers in the region that play a critical role in increasing student achievement and producing students who are creative thinkers for the 21st century. Each recipient receives $1,500 and an original sculpture by local artist Greg Scott.
In addition to Faulkner, the other 2017 Honorees are:
Eboné Lockett, Cato Middle College High School, Mecklenburg County
A high school English teacher for over 14 years, Lockett has a passion for taking her students outside the walls of the classroom and providing real world experiences to enhance learning. Throughout her career in CMS, Lockett as served in several leadership roles, such as the district coordinator for National Poetry Out Loud, Drama Guild advisor, a member of UNC Charlotte’s Teachers Institute and more.
Luke Abercrombie, Marvin Ridge High School, Union County
Abercrombie has developed a gamification method to teach high school Earth and Environmental Science. His students are empowered to engage in content delivery and assignments that best suit their individual learning styles.
Ted Miracle, Endhaven Elementary School, Mecklenburg County
Formerly an assistant principal, Miracle left administration to pursue his passion as a science educator. He has incorporated STEM into the fabric of Endhaven with initiatives such as STEM Nights, Science Olympiad, Robotics, Saturday STEM Family Field Trips, Engineering Is Elementary, Science Lab, Science Alliances and more.
Sarah Wheeler, Randolph Middle School, Mecklenburg County
Wheeler has served students in many roles throughout her 28 year career, including dance specialist, third grade teacher, talented and gifted specialist, and for the past 16 years as the middle grades social studies Horizons specialist for gifted students at Randolph Middle School. Wheeler urges her students to think beyond their schools, families and circle of friends by taking them outside of their comfort zones to learn about Civil Rights on a tour of monuments throughout Georgia and Alabama.
Stacy Pruitt, Lincolnton Middle School, Lincoln County
A reading and social studies teacher for nearly 10 years, Pruitt incorporates literacy and civic responsibility into each lesson through monthly reading goal celebrations, book talks, reading based projects and letter writing.