Published by Laurie Pender on September 12, 2016
John Griffin Middle School Teacher Snatches the Title
Fayetteville – “I want all the children I teach to become productive members of society …,” said Cumberland County Schools’ 2017 Teacher of the Year (TOY) Todd McCabe, an 8th-grade Social Studies teacher at John Griffin Middle School, “… a society without hate, but full of compassion for all mankind.”
The announcement of the 2017 Cumberland County Schools’ (CCS) Teacher of the Year was made during an annual dinner in the ballroom at the Embassy Suites Fayetteville tonight. The presentation took place in front of 86 Teacher-of-the-Year candidates, their guests, school administrators, School Board members, and business partners.
McCabe received his undergraduate degree in History from Fayetteville State University. Through the years, the 15-year teaching veteran has also received numerous teaching awards and is affiliated with various professional organizations.
McCabe, who is a military veteran, said his path to becoming a teacher was not a predictable one. “I did not come from a typical family unit that emphasized the importance of education and a lifelong love of learning,” said McCabe. “I unfortunately made numerous poor choices, until one teacher took the time to notice, to care and to guide me. He instilled in me that I had the power to guarantee my life’s outcome would be more positive than how it began. In time, his deed of mentoring me ignited my desire to teach.”
From there, it became McCabe’s personal quest to “lead our nation’s children” and help them realize “that despite their early beginnings, their own life endings can be positive.”
He said the contribution to education that he is most proud of is his work in preparing his students to be productive, global citizens. “An advantage of teaching social studies is that the topics we discuss from the past resonate into the future as well. Throughout my years of teaching, I have brought in guest mentors such as veterans from the Wounded Warrior Project. We have participated in various humane programs such as Operation Christmas Child. My students are learning that we must push our communities to affect change that benefits all, not just [those] within our school or on the local level, but globally as well,” said McCabe.
The seasoned educator said he also makes it a point to develop a rapport with his students by modeling compassion and caring for each child. “All in all, I believe that building relationships with my students and respecting them as individuals is the cornerstone of my teaching philosophy,” said McCabe. “I attempt each day in my classroom and during my lessons to do away with the Me vs. Them notion. I embrace daily the idea of US and togetherness. For a student to learn in any classroom, I believe they must feel accepted as individuals, not only by the teacher, but by their classmates as well. In my classroom, we celebrate the differences that make each of us unique and by doing so, we give each of us individually ‘a voice.’”
McCabe describes his classes as high energy with movement and collaboration that occurs on a daily basis. “I strive to be the one class students don’t want to miss,” said McCabe.
Through the years, his approach in the classroom has impacted many young lives as seen in a letter a mother had written him about her daughter, who had just lost her father and was fearful of middle school and the burdens of life. The mother wrote: “When school started she was so afraid, and I was terrified, but then, she met you … I noticed her saying things like ‘Mr. McCabe is going to be so proud of me …’ You went beyond the call of a teacher and inspired my daughter to do very best and for that, I want you to know that you are being prayed for everyday for the rest of your life.” McCabe keeps the letter framed in his home office. He said it hangs there as a reminder of his mission. “I firmly believe that through my actions and commitment to helping others, this will impact my students and inspire them to do the same.”
As the 2017 Teacher of the Year, McCabe received:
Other winners announced Monday evening were first runner-up Jonathan Waddell from Cliffdale Elementary School, who received $200 from the CCS, $100 from CISCC, a plaque, and flowers; and second runner-up Kenneth Davis from Gray’s Creek High School, who received $100 from the CCS, $100 from CISCC, a plaque, and flowers. The 10 district winners were awarded iPad Minis from the CCS’ Technology Department, $100 from the CCS, and a plaque. All TOY candidates received $100 from the CCS, a custom-framed certificate, and two hours of C.E.U. credit.
Teacher of the Year Strives to Make Students Global Citizens