Published by Angel Hoggard on September 10, 2019
Fayetteville, NC – “My students are my ikigai,” Cumberland County Schools’ 2020 Teacher of the Year (TOY) Maureen Stover wrote in her TOY Nomination Portfolio. “In the Japanese culture, ikigai means life’s purpose. My ikigai is helping my students develop academically, socially and emotionally as they transition from adolescence into adulthood. Early in my teaching career, one of my co-workers told me that my kids would never care to learn until they learned how much I care. I have taken this advice to heart and in my 10 years in education, I have found that one of the most important parts of being a teacher is the relationships I form with my students.”
The announcement of Stover as this year’s Teacher of the Year winner was made tonight during CCS’ Premier Professionals Gala in the Richard M. Wiggins Conference Center of the Embassy Suites Fayetteville Fort Bragg. The presentation took place in front of 86 Teacher-of-the-Year candidates and their guests, school administrators, School Board members, and business partners.
The Cumberland International Early College High School science teacher was overcome with excitement and expressed special thanks to her principal, Maria Pierce-Ford, her colleagues and her students. “But, most importantly, I would like to thank my students who are my motivation, my inspiration, and the reason why I love to come to school everyday,” said Stover. “I am excited to share our successes as a county and to demonstrate to the rest of North Carolina why we are a premier educational program!”
Stover received her bachelor’s degree from the United States Air Force Academy and went on to serve as an Air Force Intelligence Officer. She later became a secondary science educator through the Troops to Teachers Program and has since been in the classroom for a decade. In December, Stover will receive her masters of arts degree in Teaching: Secondary Science Education from Western Governors University. This educator has several professional affiliations, awards and has helped facilitate numerous professional development opportunities in the district.
Stover wrote that as a high school student, she had two extraordinary teachers who inspired her to enter the teaching profession because they were knowledgeable, well-prepared and implemented student-centered learning strategies. “Mr. Carpenter and Mr. Mueller taught me many valuable lessons, but most importantly, they demonstrated that their students were the center of their classrooms and their number one priority, as a teacher, was to help us learn by making learning organized, accessible, engaging and student-centered.”
Within her first few weeks of teaching, Stover realized that each of her students had the potential to be successful in her class if she could find the unique way to help them learn. “I found ways to make science interesting like solving for the minimum velocity to clear a jump on a skateboard or teaching conservation of momentum using the sleds on the football field,” wrote Stover. “I also went to my students’ games, concerts, competitions, and activities outside of our classroom.”
The students responded excitedly by eagerly anticipating her lessons each day. From there, she noticed that no one skipped class and everyone passed her class. This was a pivotal point in the young educator’s career because it reinforced the importance of relationships and student-centered learning. “I know my students beyond my classroom, and this helps me develop strategies that help my students learn based on their personal strengths,” wrote Stover.
She feels her classroom is a positive learning environment where students engage in hands-on activities that make learning relevant, but “…it is also a classroom where my students know they are safe, where they can come when they need help, and where they know their ideas will be valued and respected,” wrote Stover. “… my role as a classroom teacher is to be part giver of knowledge, part cheerleader, part counselor, part mom, part nurse, and part what my kids need me to be that day.”
As the 2020 Teacher of the Year, Stover received:
Other winners announced tonight were First runner-up Katelyn Lovette from Gallberry Farm Elementary School, who received an award and flowers from the CCS, $100 from CISCC, and $200 from the CCBOE; and Second runner-up Tracy Hill from Douglas Byrd High School, who received an award and flowers from the CCS, $100 from CISCC, and $100 from the CCBOE.
The 10 district finalists 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, professional photos from Lifetouch photography and two hours of C.E.U. credit.
Gala sponsors also include Olde Fayetteville Insurance and Financial Services.
As the county-wide winner, Stover will advance to compete for the regional title.