ROSEBORO — During a Christmas choral and band concert at Roseboro-Salemburg Middle School Tuesday afternoon, teacher Oliva Hall was unaware of what was about to happen as she listened intently to students sing “Jingle Bells” with the help of guest Keana Triplett.
Although Triplett harmonized the lyrics well, she was not there to sing songs or be a part of the program. Instead she introduced herself as the current Teacher of the Year for North Carolina. Hall listened as Triplett rattled off a list of accomplishments, then quickly realized they were her own, the ones that led to her being named Sampson County Schools Teacher of the Year for 2015-16.
“She gives her best to her children and her coworkers daily,” Triplett said. “Your parents said she goes the extra mile for students and she’s very innovative in the classroom. She exemplifies what a teacher needs to be.”
Triplett then asked Hall to come on stage as everyone cheered with thunderous applause. Moments later the sixth-grade Language Arts teacher was officially named the 2015-16 Sandhills Region Teacher of the Year. She will now go on to represent the Sandhills region for the North Carolina Teacher of the Year selection process.
After the exciting announcement, Hall hugged school administrators and family members. Holding a bouquet of flowers, she approached the podium and the school became silent.
“Well … this was unexpected,” Hall started, obviously surprised. “Those were very nice things that you said about me and it means so much to me that it came from you guys.”
Hall continued, saying the accomplishments were special because of her interaction with students during her years at the school.
“You each mean so much to me and every teacher here has influenced me and helped me,” Hall stressed. “I just can’t say thank you enough. Thank you for all of your love and support.”
During the Regional Teacher of the Year process, Hall said she was asked how she would handle the pressure. She emotionally responded. “One thing I know is that there is a loving supporting school that is 100 percent behind me.”
Since 1970, North Carolina recognized outstanding educators through its Teacher of the Year program, which is the most prestigious honor for educators in the state.
Later, during a reception, Hall said she was shocked and surprised when her name was called by Triplett, who said it’s one of her favorite duties as the state’s 2015 Teacher of Year.
“I get to go and award teachers with these great attributes of what they do and how wonderful they are and how much their students, parents and administrators love them,” said Triplett, an English educator from Ashe County.
Triplett said the teachers are a big inspiration for students throughout the state. Hall has encouraged students in many ways. She coaches students in the Battle of the Books program and serves as the Positive Behavior Intervention and Support coordinator. Hall is also a member of the School Improvement Team and participates in professional development presentations.
Hall is graduate of Lakewood High School and was a North Carolina Teaching Fellow and earned a Bachelor’s degree from East Carolina University in Middle Grades Education. Currently, Hall is pursuing her Master’s in Curriculum, Instruction and Supervision from the University of North Carolina at Wilmington.
Dr. Eric Bracy, superintendent of Sampson County Schools, said it was an honor for Hall, Roseboro-Salemburg Middle Schools and the district.
“She a wonderful teacher and she really puts students first in everything that she does,” Bracy said after the announcement. “We’re fortunate to have her, she’s definitely a jewel.”
In a news release, Bracy also said “It is a thrill for Sampson County Schools and our community for Olivia Hall to be a North Carolina Teacher of the Year finalist by virtue of her selection as Regional Teacher of the Year. We are so proud of Mrs. Hall and all the teachers who are dedicated to our students.”
Sheila Peterson, principal of Roseboro-Salemburg Middle School, said she was elated to hear the good news. During the announcement, she said it was the first time a teacher from the Lakewood district received the honor.
“Mrs. Hall is truly an inspirational leader who paints the outlook in a positive manner for all students,” Peterson said. “She fills her students with hope and encouragement to ensure their futures look bright. She believes as a team we can do anything. We are proud of all of her accomplishments. We support her 100 percent in her endeavor to become Teacher of the Year for North Carolina.”
Reach Chase Jordan at 910-249-4617. Follow us on Twitter at @SampsonInd and like us on Facebook.