Published by Laurie Pender on October 16, 2018
Teacher from Gray’s Creek High School Clinches the TOY Title
Fayetteville – “I consider my greatest contribution to be that of bringing together diverse groups of students in order to create beautiful music together,” said Cumberland County Schools’ 2019 Teacher of the Year (TOY) Amy Stovall, a chorus and music teacher at Gray’s Creek High School.
The announcement of the 2019 Cumberland County Schools’ (CCS) Teacher of the Year was made during an annual dinner in the Cumberland County Crown Ballroom tonight. The presentation took place in front of 86 Teacher-of-the-Year candidates, their guests, school administrators, School Board members, and business partners.
Stovall received her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in music education from the University of North Carolina at Pembroke (UNC-P). During her 13 years in the classroom, she has also taught students in Scotland and Robeson counties. The music educator has several professional affiliations, awards, and recognitions, and has helped facilitate numerous professional development opportunities for other music educators.
Stovall said she “caught the vision of becoming a music educator” while studying at UNC-P. “… Dr. [Gary] Wright will forever stand in my mind and heart as the most inspiring and influential teacher I have ever known,” said Stovall. “I loved music but had never sung before. As I struggled to find my voice, Dr. Wright’s genuine passion for teaching and mentoring led me to my own passion for choral music. The beauty of the human voice and the joy of making music with others finally guided me to a realization that not only did I want to do this for the rest of my life, but I wanted to do for others what Dr. Wright had done for me.”
Since then, Stovall has taken great pride in developing the musical gifts of students who have gone on to receive Superior ratings at state adjudication events, earn chairs in the highly competitive NC Honors Chorus, place first in class at Festival Disney multiple times, and perform with the rock band Foreigner as well as several area university choirs.
She said her teaching philosophy revolves around making certain that all students, regardless of their race, religion, socio-economic status, and physical or intellectual ability be afforded the opportunity to fully explore the world of music. “I endeavor to establish a classroom environment of equality where students can explore and discover without being afraid of prejudice,” said Stovall. “Each of them is important and valued for who they are.
I offer a place for both the novice student and the highly trained musician. My classroom is one of consistent high standards where students are encouraged to fail often and ‘fail big’ so that they may learn effectively. I foster an attitude of acceptance of others’ strengths and weaknesses by giving students the opportunity to lead and teach in the classroom. In this way, students become more invested in the overall process of creating music together and finding a sense of compassion and appreciation for their peers.”
Stovall said that in order to get others to shine a positive light of support on the teaching profession, she and her fellow educators must “model the tenets of expert teaching” where students graduate with a respect for the profession that carries into their adult lives. “In the future, they will be the parents of students, community business owners, and policymakers – all with the potential to impact education in a positive way.”
For Stovall, there continues to be a driving force pushing her desire to deliver ‘expert teaching.’ “Every day that I offer a safe space for my students during school, every day that I accept and value them for who they are, every day that I give them a safe place to be after school, every day that our choir family creates music together and brings beauty into this world, is another day that I have succeeded in giving back to my own teachers and carrying on their legacy.”
As the 2019 Teacher of the Year, Stovall received:
Other winners announced tonight were first runner-up Daniel Smith from Westover High School, who received an award and a flower from the CCS, $100 from CISCC, and $200 from the CCBOE; and second runner-up Emily Richards from Long Hill Elementary School, who received an award and flowers from the CCS, $100 from CISCC, and $100 from the CCBOE. The 10 district winners were awarded an iPad and $100 from the CCS, and an award from the CCBOE. All TOY candidates received $100 from the CCS, a custom-framed certificate from the CCBOE, and two hours of Continuing Education credits.
Stovall will go on to compete for the regional TOY title in the coming weeks.