Connie Reece’s classroom turned into a party zone on Nov. 15 when Carroll County Schools Superintendent Dr. Strader Blankenship surprised her with flowers, cupcakes and the 2013 Carroll County Schools Teacher of the Year Award.
“I feel speechless, and I feel very honored. We have lots of great teachers in Carroll County,” said Reece, who teaches eighth-grade math and Algebra I at Carroll County Middle School.
Joining Blankenship in the surprise were Carroll County Schools assistant superintendents Jerry King and Dr. Mark Burnette, central office personnel Donna Monday and Julia Combs, CCMS Principal Marc Quesenberry and CCMS Assistant Principal Dana Burnette.
Reece worked as the customer service and prototype manager for TMD Friction Co. in Dublin before entering the teaching field 10 years ago.
“I made a career change in my early 40s from business to teaching. I just wish I had done it a lot sooner,” she said, adding that what she loves about teaching is “The opportunity to share how education can better your life.”
Reece began her teaching career in 2004 at St. Paul School, where she taught special education, concentrating in reading, writing and math for students in grades one through seven. She joined the staff at Carroll County Intermediate School in 2006 as a special education teacher, remaining in that role until this year.
Among the criteria used to select a teacher of the year are responses to three topics - community involvement, teaching philosophy and issues in education.
As to community involvement, Reece concluded her response by writing, “Being a successful teacher does not allow for running out of the building each day as the clock strikes three-thirty. The relationships that I build with students, parents and other community members in the after school hours are invaluable to the success of my students and the community.”
Reece stated her teaching philosophy thusly, “Although very basic; my teaching philosophy is: Education is a tremendous gift, it is available to everyone, and it should be nurtured and cherished.”
As for issues in education, Reece said although education is affected by many issues, the alarming increase in “the number of economically disadvantaged students” is a major issue. She said there are several key factors to assist such students in succeeding in the classroom. Reece said the first is to ensure “a clean, safe, comfortable and stable learning environment;” secondly, “form a bond with the student,” and finally, “hold the student to the same high expectations as other students.”
The other eight candidates, and the their schools, for the teacher of the year were Jessica Cochran, Fancy Gap Elementary School; Melina Easter, St. Paul School; James Eaton, Gladesboro Elementary School; Jennifer Martin, Laurel Elementary School; Sabrina Melton, Gladeville Elementary School; Dina C. Reece, Carroll County High School; Liza Sutherland, Oakland Elementary School; and Brian Fritz, RAE Center.