Holding a bouquet of flowers, Judy Taylor looked into the audience and became emotional while standing under the spotlight.
Taylor, a first-grade teacher at L.C. Kerr School, was named the 2014-2015 Jack and Kitty Morisey Teacher of the Year for Clinton City Schools. The announcement was made Monday during the district’s End of Year Celebration at Clinton High School Prestage Auditorium.
After receiving hugs from her family and other Clinton City School officials, Taylor thanked the school district.
“I could have not done it without my colleagues,” Taylor said. “I have learned something from each and every person that I’ve came in contact with.”
During her speech, Taylor mentioned her mother, Trixie Mattocks, who passed away in January from breast cancer.
“I wish she was here because I miss her dearly,” Taylor said. “She has instilled in me the love that I try to show the students, each and every day.”
Taylor earned her bachelor’s in special education from East Carolina University. She later obtained an Add-on Elementary Ed. Certification from the University of North Carolina-Wilmington. In 2010, she received a master’s in curriculum and instruction and school administration from the University of North Carolina-Pembroke.
She began her education career in 1990 at East Bladen High School as a English remediation teacher.
Next, Taylor continued her career at Union Elementary School from 1991 to 2001 as a special education and kindergarten teacher.
In 2001, Taylor joined the faculty of L.C. Kerr School. From 2001 to 2004 she taught kindergarten, before teaching first-grade students.
Taylor has served as a member of several professional organizations and committees. Some of them include Positive Behavior Support Committee, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Report Committee and the School improvement team.
She received National Board Certification in 2008.
Jan Smith, L.C. Kerr principal, said Taylor has been a valuable member of the school for many years.
“Her caring attitude, dedication to her students, and curriculum knowledge have established her as a well-respected member of the faculty,” Smith noted in an April recommendation letter.
She continued and said there is no doubt that Taylor is capable of representing the school as teacher of the year.
“She is a wonderful example of what a professional educator should be, and it without hesitation that I support her nomination for this honor.”
The other nominees included Meghan Barefoot, Butler Avenue; Mary Lou Rushing, Sunset Avenue; Angela Brewington, Sampson Middle; and Jennifer Dirks, Clinton High School.
Each teacher was awarded money for personal use and funding to reinvest in classroom projects. L.C. Kerr will also receive $2,000 as a result of Taylor being named Teacher of the Year.
During the ceremony, teachers and staff members were recognized for their contributions during the school year. Some of the other recognitions included perfect attendance, retirees, bus drivers and custodians.
During emotional closing remarks, Superintendent Stuart Blount said they were well-deserved recognitions.
“Each of you are very special,” Blount said. “You are a gift.”