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2020-2021 Teachers of the Year

Please join us in congratulating our school teachers of the 2020-2021 school year, as well as our Lee County Schools district winner, Ashley Matsik, on their achievements!

Our Lee County Schools teachers of the year!

Here's a little about all of our teachers:

Ronda Yarborough, BT Bullock Elementary —

"B.T. Bullock Elementary is thrilled to call Ronda Yarborough our teacher of the year.    Ronda has been an invaluable member of the Bullock team for the last 3 years.  Ronda has been in education for 20 years as both a teacher’s assistant and teacher after earning a degree from Fayetteville State University. She is married to Jerry and has two sons, TJ and Ryan, who are her pride and joy.  When Ronda is not researching new lessons, she loves to craft, crochet, sew, paint and read.

"Ronda brought a wealth of knowledge and leadership to our school when she joined us three years ago.  Ronda is a true lifelong learner who seeks opportunities to develop new skills, tirelessly practices and perfects her craft, and thrives on teaching others through professional development.  Ronda is always focused on innovating while staying grounded to research-based strategies.  She is skillful at managing processes to optimize learning in her classroom. She is also effective at progress monitoring to ensure that she is meeting the needs of all students in her care.  Two years ago Ronda came to me with a vision for a STEM lab that took shape last year.  She creatively procured materials and researched STEM items to create an engaging learning space for our students.  I am reminded of her dedication to our school each day as a walk by that space.  We are proud to call Ronda Yarborough our B.T. Bullock Teacher of the Year." — Stefanie Clarke, Principal

Davette Roper, Bragg Street Academy —

"Bragg Street Academy is pleased to recommend Davette Roper as Lee County School 2019-2020 Lee County Schools Teacher of the Year. Ms. Roper can be described as an influential teacher leader who exemplifies, in the work she does for students and teachers, what it takes to carry out the vision for the school in which she works and the overall mission of our school district.

"Ms. Davette Roper is a 2004 Graduate of North Carolina Central University where she was the recipient of the Ron Edmonds Full Teaching Scholarship. After graduating from NCCU, she became a teacher. She has been a middle school teacher for 15 Years, where she has spent the last five in Lee County Schools. During her time in Lee County, she has become AIG certified for the county, AVID trained, and is a Cohort 2 Educator of Color

"Ms. Davetter Roper is a Champion within her family, our school and throughout our community.

"Ms. Roper is a Champion within her family where she and Gregory Sr, have four children:  Dezmun and Justice who attend Lee Early College and Janiyah and Gregory Jr. who attend Deep River Elementary. These kids are the joys of her heart and she is proudest of being a Career Mommy.

"Within the classroom, Ms. Roper is our Champion where she serves at Bragg Street Academy as a mentor, Middle School Department Chair, in charge of Student of the Month, is the representative for both the middle school and high school Curriculum and Instruction Committees, in charge of the awards program with another colleague, is on the JCPC and Apex Committees, a member of the SIT team along with teaching both English Language Arts and Journalism. She is a teacher leader who will give her time for students, families and staff in order to support our vision of success.  She is committed to their success and does whatever she can to make sure each of her students in her class are confident, motivated learners.

"Within our community,  Ms. Roper  is a member of Love Faith and Power Christian Ministries in Sanford, NC where he is the Secretary for the Youth Ministry, the Assistant for the Senior Citizens Ministry, and a member of the Hospitality and Shepard’s Care Ministries. She has had the pleasure of being in charge of Spotlight on Youth at LFPCM.

"There are many proficient and dedicated leaders in education. There are also leaders who, because of their commitment to education and students will make significant contributions to the field of education. Ms. Roper is outstanding. Her leadership as a teacher; her dedication to teaching; her passion and love for education only scrape the surface of what she does every day. Ms. Roper is a Champion in Education and we are proud to acknowledge all of the work she does for kids and teachers at Bragg Street Academy." — Shannon Shuey, Principal

Vivian Gierbolini, Broadway Elementary —

"If something happens at Broadway Elementary School, you can be sure Vivian Gierbolini is involved.

"Mrs. Gierbolini, our 'Mrs. G', has a job title of 'ESL Teacher'. In reality, she serves as a teacher, Broadway Facebook page manager, Beautification Committee member, translator, leader, friend. She may appear as a Disney character, wearing a mask, or whatever else is necessary to make children better enjoy school.

"This year, to help our students of Hispanic descent develop pride in their native cultures, Mrs. G organized a parade around our building. When doubts arose about the parade being all we hoped it could be Mrs. G persevered and insisted it could be done.  On the day of the parade our halls were full of flags, students and staff wore outfits reflecting their heritage, and the event was a huge success.

"It is easy to say someone "will do whatever it takes" to help students succeed. Mrs. G lives up to those words by her daily actions. When the school building was closed due to the pandemic, Mrs. G worked tirelessly to ensure language was no barrier to helping her students and families feel part of the Broadway community. 

"Mrs. G would never seek to become "Teacher of the Year". She is too busy thinking about how to make Broadway Elementary School a better place. That makes it all the more fitting that her peers voted her to be the 2020-21 Broadway Elementary Teacher of the Year. We are so proud of her." — Ricky Secor, Principal

Ashley Matsik, Deep River Elementary and Lee County Schools Teacher of the Year —

"Deep River Elementary is excited to announce our teacher of the year is Mrs. Ashley Matsik.  If you have ever been in her presence you would know she has a love for three things: her faith, her family, and her students.  Ashley believes her mission daily is to love people.  And that is exactly what she does every time she steps foot on our campus.  If you were to walk into her classroom, you would hear her talking a mile a minute, you would see a classroom transformed into a medical emergency room or a rainforest or sports arena, but most importantly, you would see children engaged in learning.  We often joke that Ashley’s students get twice as much teaching as others because she talks so fast! Along with teaching 5th grade, she has also helped with Project Lift-Off, a program for our homeless students, for several years, which is one of her most inspiring endeavors.  The deep connections she has made with these students and their families over the years have made a great impact on their future. Ashley Matsik is one amazing teacher that we are proud to call a Deep River Gator!  Congratulations Ashley!" — Amy Lundy, Principal

Karen Voelz, East Lee Middle —

"Karen Voelz is a detail oriented math teacher at East Lee Middle School. She is very knowledgeable and thorough with her math curriculum. 

"When you think of someone who is caring, attentive, and enthusiastic Karen is the first one that comes to mind.  Mrs. Voelz is very passionate about her students and that is evident when walking into her classroom. Karen is known for seeking solutions to problems and building relationships with her students. She likes to begin the year with the following quote, “Nobody can go back and start a new beginning, but anyone can start today and make a new ending”. This quote reminds her and her students that every day is a new day, don’t dwell on the past.

"One of Karen’s colleagues describe her as 'A ray of sunshine that will always brighten your day. If you are ever in need of someone to show they care, Karen is your person!' Mrs. Voelz not only builds relationships with students, but with staff and colleagues." — Dr. Sharron Williams, Principal

Tina Lewis, Floyd L. Knight —

"The staff at Floyd L. Knight strives to help each student become as independent and as functional as possible so they can be a productive citizen within the community.  This process requires compassion, patience and flexibility.  Staff members have to adapt their instruction in order to meet the unique needs of the students.  FLK is honored to be represented by a teacher that exhibits these traits and many more. 

"Our teacher of the year joined FLK as an Instructional Assistant in the Fall of 2006 and begun her journey as a teacher in the Fall of 2013 through lateral entry.  Now as a Special Education Teacher, she strives to prepare her high school students for post-secondary life. 

"When asked about her teaching philosophy she responds:  'Like Carol Dweck, author of The Growth Mindset, I believe in the power of ‘yet’.  My students have limitations that make acquiring new academic and functional skills challenging.  I often remind myself and them that it isn’t that they can’t do something; it’s only that they can’t do it ‘yet’.'

“'I believe that education is the key to opportunity and I wanted to emulate those teachers of mine who taught me not just fundamental academic skills, but just as importantly, taught me to believe in myself and in limitless possibilities.'

"She is a proud wife and devoted mother of two beautiful children.  In her life outside of the school, she enjoys spending time with her family and her dogs. 'The activities of my ‘teacher life’ keep me happy, busy, as well as personally and professionally fulfilled.'

"It gives the staff at Floyd L. Knight great pleasure to introduce Tina Lewis as their Teacher of the Year!" — Jennifer Allen, Principal

Danielle McLamb, Greenwood Elementary —

"I am a true believer that a career as an educator takes a calling.  Teachers must have their whole hearts in what they do to truly impact children in a meaningful and lasting way.  Danielle McLamb embodies the essence of what it means to change lives on a daily basis.  She goes above and beyond what is expected to ensure that the students she serves are met where they are at to establish and build upon success.  Danielle loves each and every one of her students and she pours herself into their needs the way she does her own children.  She connects with families to make student circumstances work and is always seeking out additional support and resources that meet the unique and individual needs of the children she serves.  She never allows students to use the barriers in front of them as an excuse, but challenges them to be the best version of themselves each and every day.  Time and time again, I have seen students in Danielle’s classroom break out of their shells to flourish and experience growth in ways that simply had not known prior to having her in their lives.  Danielle is a true teaching veteran.  She is a colleague that teachers want to have and a teacher that students are lucky to learn from. Her experience serves her well and Greenwood is fortunate to have her as a part of our family.  She is beyond deserving of our Teacher of the Year honor.  Many thanks to her for doing what she does day in and day out." — Christian Chaney, Principal

Gaynell McIver, J. Glenn Edwards Elementary —

"J Glenn Edwards Elementary is proud to present Gaynell McIver as our Teacher of the Year!

"John Quincy Adams once said, 'If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more, and become more, then you are a leader.'  Gaynell McIver is a leader and inspiration to the many children and adults she has worked with in her 42 years of teaching! Her positive attitude, enthusiasm, and passion is absolutely contagious. You can feel Mrs. McIver’s loving energy upon walking into her classroom or simply just being in her presence.  

"Mrs. McIver is happily married to her husband Fred who fully supports and shares in her love of learning and education.  Mrs. McIver received her Bachelor's degree in Elementary Education from Bennett College in Greensboro and her Masters in Education from Fayetteville State University. She has taught for 31 years in Lee County at J. Glenn Edwards. Mrs. McIver was inspired by a long line of educators, including her parents, siblings, aunts, and uncles! She saw first hand the positive impact her parents had on students and families in their community and this instilled in Mrs. McIver a passionate desire to do the same.

"When we asked Mrs. McIver’s 2nd grade students, “'What makes Mrs. McIver such a special teacher?' We overwhelmingly heard responses of 'She loves me, She loves reading, She has the best candy, and She buys us so many books to read!'

"Please allow me to be candid and sum up Mrs. McIver as an energetic 2nd grade teacher that exudes love and compassion towards every single child she meets.  Mrs McIver is an inspiring leader, to both her students and her colleagues, and her love for learning is an inspiration to us all.  We are proud to have Mrs. Gaynell McIver represent J Glenn Edwards as our Teacher of the Year!" — Dr. Natalie Kelly, Principal

Dee-El Caines, J.R. Ingram, Jr. Elementary —

"J.R. Ingram, Jr. Elementary School is extremely proud to honor Dee-El Caines as our Teacher of the Year.  Ms. Caines, the proud mom of a rising sophomore at CCCC, graduated from Meredith College with a BS degree in Early Childhood with a K-6 teaching certificate. She began teaching in the 1994-95 school year in Wake County as a Pre-K teacher. Following that first year, she taught kindergarten, first, second, and third grades in Lee, Wake and Chapel Hill-Carrboro City School districts. She has been at J.R. Ingram since 2005 and is an outstanding member of our kindergarten team. Ms. Caines is exactly what you hope for from the first teacher a child will have in school. With positivity and enthusiasm, she commits herself to ensuring all children not only progress as learners but that they also become excited to attend school daily. Her relationships with parents consistently demonstrate her commitment to maintaining a positive home and school relationship and is a key factor in her success in the classroom. Even when faced with remote teaching and learning in the spring, she maintained the same level of dedication and went above and beyond to reach all students and families. Outside of her classroom she is an active staff member that demonstrates exceptional leadership in her roles as beginning teacher mentor, grade chair representative, School Improvement Team member, and a Leader in Me Curriculum and Instruction team member. She has also served on district level committees to assist with kindergarten report card policies and pacing guide planning.  Ms. Caines is extremely deserving of the title of Teacher of the Year and Ingram is very blessed to call her one of our own!" — Lisa Duffy, Principal

Jenna Sanders, Lee Early College —

"Jenna Sanders has been teaching at LEC for 9 years.  Mrs. Sanders is a dedicated teacher, who gives 1000% each day. A true Math Whiz, she teaches Math 2, Math 3, Statistics, and Pre-Calculus. She is our Math Department Chair, Advisory Coordinator and has led the LEC SGLA for several years. Her lessons are always fun and engaging and she cares deeply about her students and the LEC team. Mrs. Sanders also coordinates the annual LEC talent show, including organizing the always much anticipated staff performance. She's not afraid to get a little silly if it will help connect with students. She has served as both a formal and informal mentor to new team members. She helps to support new teachers and ensures they learn the LEC way. We are beyond grateful to have her on our team.  Mrs. Sanders is a treasure to the LEC family, and is truly deserving of the title 'teacher of the year.'" — Kisha Derr, Principal

Elayne Monjar, Lee County High —

"Elayne Monjar has been a Social Studies teacher at Lee County High School since 2013, fresh out of Elon University.  Ms. Monjar has grown professionally at LCHS, serving as the Department Chair for three years, serving on a host of school leadership roles on committees such as the School Improvement Team, School Leadership Team, and MTSS.  Ms. Monjar takes great pride in her work as the SGA advisor and guiding and assisting with our Prom committee for the last several years.  We were one of only a handful of schools statewide that was able to have a Spring Prom last year due to eventful planning and luck on Ms. Monjar’s part.  Ms. Monjar has also been a driving force in our AP and IB programs, teaching, advising, and attending professional development throughout.  Currently, Ms. Monjar is our MSA Principal Intern for this first Semester at LCHS, and is already enveloping herself in helpful roles for the Administrative staff.  Teaching to Ms. Monjar is about advocating for every single student and ensuring they are given every opportunity to be successful." — Greg Batten, Interim Principal

Natalie Davis, SanLee Middle, In Memoriam —

"To honor and remember the life of Natalie Davis, SanLee Middle School named Mrs. Davis as our Teacher of the Year.  Natalie lost her three-year battle with cancer in April, but worked in our school building up until the last day we were all together in March sharing her love of our language and books with her students. With the assistance of her husband, Robert, also a language arts teacher in our district, and fellow 6th grade teachers, Natalie continued to work answering emails and grading assignments to ensure her students had the language arts and social studies skills needed to be prepared for seventh grade.  Mrs. Davis' infectious laugh, beautiful smile, and positive spirit will be missed but her memory will continue to live on through the many students, families, and Lee County Schools staff she touched throughout her years in education." — Betsy Bridges, Principal

Shanna Roberts, Southern Lee High —

"Southern Lee High School proudly named Shanna Roberts as their 2020-2021 Teacher of the Year.  Shanna has served as a Career and Technical Education Teacher for twelve years.  During her time at Southern Lee Mrs. Roberts has taught Multimedia and Web Page Design, Ecommerce Honors, Digital Media and Microsoft Imagine Academy’s Word and PowerPoint.  Mrs. Roberts currently serves as the Southern Lee High School webpage manager as well as the media coordinator for the Cavalier Connection that runs daily in the cafeteria.  This year Mrs. Roberts will serve as the Director of Adobe Academy, where she will be teaching Adobe Visual, Adobe Video and other business courses. 

"Mrs. Roberts earned a BS in Business Management from Auburn University in 1991 and a Masters of Business Administration (MBA) from Troy University.  During college Mrs. Roberts was a member of Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority and enjoyed working with the KKG chapter at NC State where she served as an advisor. 

"Prior to starting her teaching career, Mrs. Roberts served as a corporate Human Resources Director for Russell Corporation, LSG Sky Chefs at the RDU Airport and Cree in Durham.  She also taught at West Lee Middle School for four years before transferring to Southern Lee High School.

"As an Alabama native, Mrs. Roberts is a huge Auburn fan and faithfully follows the Auburn Tigers.  Her son, Fuller, is a 2012 graduate of Southern Lee High School.  Mrs. Roberts has been married for almost thirty years to her husband, Lyn.  The Southern Lee Family is proud to have selected Mrs. Shanna Roberts as their 2020-2021 Teacher of the Year." — Molly Poston, Principal

Mary Beth Wiltshire, Tramway Elementary —

"Mary Beth Wiltshire ends every art class just as enthusiastically as it begins.  Throughout the hallways, you will hear “space and color, space and color” to the tune of 'Frere Jacques' to review with students the elements of art.  Her classes are filled with hands-on experiences that motivate students to grow their artistic talents. Mrs. Wilshire has rejuvenated our art program and the number of students who come by her room for a quick hug speak volumes about her impact on the TigerShark family. 

"The staff at Tramway have come to know Mrs. Wiltshire as a creative member of our staff who is willing to help out in any way possible.  This year, she connected our school community with a national artist through the 'Art For the Sky' program.  Our students were able to learn about their individual impact on the environment as well as how to work together to create a school-wide collaborative art project.  The project was on a grand scale, but that didn’t deter Mrs. Wiltshire from believing in our ability to participate. 

"Mrs. Wiltshire is a team player in the truest sense and brings such a calming, welcoming presence to our staff.  We are so proud to lead and learn alongside her each day." — Andrea Sloan, Principal

Rachel Ellis, Warren Williams —

"This year’s Warren Williams Teacher of the Year is a native daughter of Sanford, North Carolina.  She is a busy and involved young woman, happily shouldering the joyous burdens of three young children and partner as well as her intense care and devotion to her lifelong avocation and career, Early Childhood Education.

"From early on in high school this gifted pre k teacher knew where her heart, mind and soul were when asked about her career choices and from that time on her pathway was paved with the stepping stones needed to pave her way to that dream, starting with choosing Early Childhood in high school and then garnering an Associate Degree in Early Childhood Education and then a Bachelor’s in Human Development and Family Services: Early Care/Ed and an educator’s License in B-K. and culminating in a Master’s in Early Childhood Studies of course!

"What drives a teacher of this level of skill and determination?  She experienced issues of her own when in school, having significant attention issues, and she recognized personally the difficulties such an issue can present a child.  Through these circumstances and through her own drive and determination she set out a path that would lead through her impressive educational credentials and career positions from teacher assistant to WRAL’s teacher of the week, to the Warren Williams Teacher of the Year.

"Rachel Ellis is our pride and joy and we count daily the blessings we have to have her with us, teaching, guiding, sharing and collaborating." — Silvia Huffer, Principal

Kim Jacobs, West Lee Middle —

"When Mrs. Jacobs became part of the Pride in March 2019, we hit the jackpot!  Mrs. Jacobs has 22 years of teaching experience, 9 of which have been in a public school setting.  She is certified K-12 Specific Learning Disabled, K-12 Mentally Disabled, K-12 Special Education: General Curriculum, and K-12 Behaviorally/Emotionally Disabled and currently teaches sixth through eighth grade students in a self-contained setting.  Mrs. Jacobs is very knowledgeable and is a hard worker.  She is well-respected by her colleagues and is a great resource for them.  She serves as our EC Department Chair and is instrumental in helping to ensure each child is scheduled appropriately and receives his/her services.  For the upcoming school year, she has also agreed to be a mentor at our school.  Out of all of her stellar qualities, the quality that makes her such an outstanding teacher is how much she cares for her students.  She builds relationships, advocates for students, and is nurturing. She is willing to do whatever it takes to make sure students are well taken care of and feel loved.  She loves them, and they love her!  She is truly amazing, and we are PROUD to have her represent the Pride as the 2020-2021 Teacher of the Year!" — Jamie Cox, Principal

Tina Maples, WB Wicker Elementary —

"Tina Maples will forever be the first Teacher of the Year for the New WB Wicker Elementary.  While the school is new for our community, Mrs. Maples has been developing her skills for years.  I have had the privilege of being her principal for many of those years at Greenwood and now we come together again at WB Wicker.  Throughout those years I have witnessed why WB Wicker teachers would choose Mrs. Maples as their Teacher of the Year.  Mrs. Maples does not just teach, she inspires, engages and reaches students in her fifth grade class who have sat in the classrooms of previous teachers being uninspired, disengaged and nearly unreachable.  Excellent teachers were unable to reach some of Mrs. Maples’ future stars.  She has built her career on the determination that it is never too late for any student.  She builds authentic relationships with students, all students, that open their eyes to the potential that she sees in them.  I do not know how she does it.  It is quite magical to see.  What I do know is that the relationships she builds are based in truth, social justice, and understanding. What I also know is that, as a principal, it would be my goal to put every child who has ever struggled to find their purpose for education in Tina Maples’ classroom.  For that reason, I am proud to present her as WB Wicker’s Teacher of the Year." — Aimee Petrarca, Principal