North Carolina has a new Teacher of the Year.
Mariah Morris, a second-grade teacher at West Pine Elementary School in Pinehurst, was named the 2019 Burroughs Wellcome Fund North Carolina Teacher of the Year on Friday during a luncheon in Cary.
The 13 year veteran has spent the last three years at West Pine where she advocates for Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) education throughout Moore County Schools.
“She tirelessly advocates for students who are academically behind,” Moore County Superintendent Robert Grimesey said in a letter supporting Morris’ nomination. “She truly believes in the importance of education and strives to make choices in her classroom and school that reach students from diverse backgrounds.”
Morris believes a curriculum that incorporates STEM education provides meaning and relevance.
“Too many of our students feel disengaged with their education,” Morris wrote in her Teacher of the Year submission. “Many of our current pedagogical practices feel out of touch with the recent boom in technological advancement. Student-led, problem-based learning should be at the forefront on our classroom instruction.”
Morris was selected Teacher of the Year from a field of nine finalists representing the state’s eight education districts and charter schools.
She succeeds the 2018 Teacher of the Year, Freebird McKinney, a social studies teacher at Walter M. Williams High School in Burlington.
As Teacher of the Year, Morris said her emphasis will be on STEM learning.
Morris grew up in Durham. She was a N.C. Teaching Fellow at UNC Chapel Hill.
Morris will spend the next school year traveling the state as an ambassador for the teaching profession as supported by Voya Financial and the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction.
She will receive a one-time cash award of $7,500.