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Bethel teacher Darcy Grimes, left, stands with Tyronna Hooker, the 2011-12 N.C. Teacher of the Year, after being named Regional Teacher of the Year last fall. Grimes now takes Hooker's place at the state Teacher of the Year for 2012-13. File photo.

Originally published: 2012-05-03 15:20:40
Last modified: 2012-05-04 00:15:58

Grimes named N.C. Teacher of the Year

by Staff Reports

Darcy Grimes, a third-grade teacher at Bethel Elementary School, has won the title of North Carolina Teacher of the Year from among the 97,000 teachers in North Carolina public schools.

The award was announced Thursday in Raleigh at an awards ceremony honoring the nine finalists for the state Teacher of the Year.

"We are so proud of Darcy, the work she does every day, and the caring energy she brings to every class,” said interim Superintendent Dick Jones. "Whether great teachers are born with special abilities, I do not know. However, Darcy clearly has the 'gift' for working with kids with great effectiveness. For Darcy to be number one out of nearly 100,000 teachers in North Carolina is a great tribute to her individually, to Bethel School and to all our teachers. This is a great moment for the Watauga County Schools, as Darcy represents the excellent teaching occurring in every school."

Jones also commented on the significance of the fact that Grimes teaches at Bethel.

"The fact that the Teacher of the Year is from Bethel, probably one of the smallest schools in the state by enrollment, makes the award even more meaningful," he said. "I am so pleased to share this moment during my time as interim superintendent."

Bethel is currently the smallest school in the WCS system, with an enrollment of 187 students in pre-kindergarten through eighth grade. It is rated a N.C. School of Distinction based on the state's system for evaluating students' academic growth and proficiency.

Schools spokesman Marshall Ashcraft said he believed Grimes was the first teacher from Watauga County Schools to win the statewide honor since the program began in 1970.

She was named the Watauga County Schools Teacher of the Year last May and was chosen as the Northwest Region Teacher of the Year in December. Each step in the selection process — local, regional, and state — involves careful review of the qualifications, classroom performance and communications skills of each candidate.

Well before her selection as Teacher of the Year, Grimes was recognized as an exceptional educator.

Bethel Principal Randy Bentley described Grimes as “a person born to teach. She has a passion for teaching that transforms into student excitement about learning. If you are feeling down and watch her at work in the classroom, it makes the whole world better.”

Bentley also praised Grimes for her skilled use of technology to enhance classroom instruction and for how her students enjoy learning with her.

“Other people talk about 21st century instruction; she already does it,” Bentley said.

Grimes is an Appalachian State University graduate who first joined the Watauga County Schools as after school site director at Blowing Rock School while still a student at ASU.

She taught at Moravian Falls Elementary in Wilkes County for three years before coming to Bethel in August 2009. Grimes is certified as an Intel Master Teacher and is currently pursuing a master's degree in instructional technology at ASU.

As North Carolina Teacher of the Year, Grimes will receive $7,500 from the N.C. Department of Public Instruction, use of a state vehicle for one year, a technology package from SMART Technologies and a two-year appointment to the State Board of Education.

She also will spend next year traveling the state on behalf of education.

Grimes was previously awarded $2,500 from the Watauga Board of Education and $5,000 from the Department of Public Instruction for her selection as a Regional Teacher of the Year. She will now be a candidate for National Teacher of the year, an honor won by three North Carolinians in the last 41 years, according to Watauga County Schools.

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