By Jane Dail
The Daily Reflector
March 13, 2014
This year’s top educator only has been on the job for five years but has won praise for making a difference in the lives of the children she helps mold.
Eastern Elementary School third grade teacher Jami Dickerson was named the 2014-15 Pitt County Teacher of the Year at the Pitt County Farm Bureau Teacher of the Year Banquet Wednesday afternoon at Rock Springs Center.
Pitt County Schools Teacher of the Year Jami Dickerson, right, is congratulated by colleague Julie Tucker after the awards ceremony at Rock Springs on Wednesday. (Rhett Butler/The Daily Reflector)
Dickerson has been teaching at Eastern Elementary for three years and has been praised for building positive relationships and nurturing environments where all students receive equal love and attention.
“I believe in education, and there’s nothing else I want to do,” Dickerson said. “… I’m honored and humbled, and I’m just so overwhelmed with the love that we get from this school district, because I’ve been in other ones and it’s not like Pitt County.”
The event recognized teachers from each of the 36 public schools in the county.
The five other finalists include Kimberly Russell from A.G. Cox Middle School, Michelle Money with South Greenville Elementary School, Heather Landreth with W.H. Robinson Elementary School, Meghann Boyd with Creekside Elementary School and Russell Knight with J.H. Rose High School. Knight was named first runner-up.
Pitt County Schools Teacher of the Year finalists Kim Russell, left, Meghan Boyd, runner-up Russell Knight, Michelle Money and Heather Landreth.
All six finalists earned bachelor’s and/or master’s degrees from East Carolina University.
Vivian Martin Covington, executive director of the Office of Teacher Education at ECU, said she was proud of the achievements of the alumni, adding it speaks volumes for the institution.
“Our alumni continue to make a positive impact on the community, region and state through their hard work and dedication to students and families,” Covington said. “This group of finalists is representative of the high quality of all of the ECU College of Education graduates working in classrooms today. We could not be prouder to help honor them and their work.”
Superintendent Ethan Lenker said he has seen Pitt County teachers in the classroom firsthand and knows what they can accomplish.
“I can just tell you how blessed you are to have the quality of teachers we have here in Pitt County,” Lenker said at the event. “I don’t think people realize how great things are that are happening in the classroom. It’s amazing.”
Dickerson won several prizes for her achievement, including an iPad, gift baskets, gift certificates and a 2014 Hyundai Elantra from Pecheles Automotive for a year.
She said her first stop in her new vehicle would either be Chick-fil-A or to stop by Eastern Elementary to tell her students she won.
Dickerson thanked several people, including her mother who taught in Halifax County for 35 years, for the recognition and support.
“A lot of times, since we interact with students, we don’t hear praise a lot of times from adults and people in the community because you focus on your kids and in your classroom every day,” she said. “I think this is important. It always helps teachers. Whenever you can take a chance to tell them thank you, it’s always great.”
Dickerson said she uses whole-brain teaching in her classroom, which is a highly interactive style of education that she has seen makes a difference.
“Scientists have discovered if a child’s whole brain is involved in their learning, then they’re going to be more engaged and retain more information,” Dickerson said. “Whole-brain teaching is a way to get them to be auditory, visual and kinesthetic learners.”
Dickerson said she incorporates singing, moving and other ways to engage the whole brain so students can apply the information more effectively.
Honored to be named teacher of the year, Dickerson said she hopes to make positive changes.
“I’ve been wanting this so badly,” she said. “I looked over and I saw my principal tear up, and then I was through. So, I was crying. I’m just so excited. I really want to change public education for the better, and I want to be a source of help and hope.”