KANNAPOLIS, NC (WBTV) - From KCS: "Optimism is the faith that leads to achievement." That quote from Helen Keller perfectly describes Kannapolis City Schools' 2018 Teacher of the Year, Beth Giddings. Giddings teaches kindergarten at G.W. Carver Elementary, and she gives meaning to Keller's words about the impact of optimism.
Beth Giddings' positive attitude helps spark the achievement of her students and has a profound influence on her colleagues and school. Former KCS Teacher of the Year, Brittany Banks, works with Giddings. She says Giddings has an "unwavering belief in the power of positive words and relationships." That optimism defines Giddings' teaching style and makes her a dynamic and successful educator. It also helped her to become Kannapolis City Schools' 2018 Teacher of the Year.
For Beth Giddings, each day is full of opportunities for making a positive difference in people's lives, and her actions reflect that attitude. For example, she ends every school day by telling her students that tomorrow is a brand new day where they can learn something new and be the best they can be. She believes each day brings the chance for her students to set new goals for themselves and to keep working on goals they have not yet reached. She reminds her students that even if they struggled today, they can be successful tomorrow. In the eyes of Beth Giddings, every day is a clean canvas with the potential of becoming a masterpiece.
Giddings' positive attitude and quest for growth extend from her students to herself. She believes that each day is a new day for her to set high standards for her students and to tell them they are loved and respected. She also believes that every day is a new chance to get to know her students by talking with them and listening to them. "I believe that every day students should have the chance to hear that they are good people and that they are loved and respected," Giddings says. "Some students may struggle academically or behaviorally, and they may not hear it often, but I believe that every day is a new day to find the good in someone and to make it known. Imagine what would happen if we all felt we could start fresh every day."
That kind of encouragement and optimism from Giddings have had a significant impact on her colleagues and the entire school culture. G.W. Carver opened last August as an elementary school after being an intermediate school for more than ten years. At the start of the school year, staff members didn't know each other; students didn't know each other, and they were all trying to build relationships, launch a new school, and establish a fresh culture from scratch. It was difficult, and there were early struggles with student behavior. However, the difficulties only served as an opportunity for Beth Giddings to step up and make a difference.
Giddings volunteered to become part of G.W. Carver's Positive Behavior Interventions and Support (PBIS) Team. She created a weekly PBIS challenge, which gave staff and students a focus area each week, such as "respect," "responsibility," or "perseverance." Giddings sent weekly e-mails to remind everyone at G.W. Carver to review expectations and praise students who continually followed the standards. She still sends the weekly e-mails, and the expectations are reinforced during morning announcements. As a result, there is now a common school vision. Everyone is working together to create a loving learning environment by teaching positive behavior and instilling good character. The improvements grew from Giddings' belief that past struggles should never prevent future achievements and that every day is a new day for success.
Brittany Banks says, "When I think about teachers who make a lasting impact on their students, colleagues, school, and district, Beth Giddings is the first teacher that comes to mind. She is innovative in her teaching strategies, and she astonishes me with her commitment to all students. Her influence has reached farther than we will ever know. She is an exemplary representative of Kannapolis City Schools."
KCS Superintendent, Dr. Chip Buckwell, echoes that praise for Giddings. "Beth Giddings is a fantastic teacher who touches lives in such a positive way. It's so easy to see her influence on students, and you can feel the impact she has at G.W. Carver. She's the perfect example of what it means to be a great educator, and I am extremely proud that she is representing Kannapolis City Schools as our Teacher of the Year."
Beth Giddings earned her master's degree in Early Childhood Education from Westfield State University in Massachusetts. She also holds a bachelor's degree in Human Growth and Development with a concentration in Early Childhood Education from Anna Maria College in Massachusetts. She has worked with KCS and the state on developing standards for kindergarten students, and she is currently earning her certification to teach Academically and Intellectually Gifted (AIG) students. This is her 20th year of teaching, and she has been in Kannapolis City Schools since 2013. Prior to teaching at G.W. Carver Elementary, she was a kindergarten teacher at Shady Brook Elementary. She will now be considered for regional Teacher of the Year honors.
As a result of being named Kannapolis City Schools' Teacher of the Year, Giddings received $1,000 from First Financial Group of America, which sponsors the KCS Teacher of the Year program. CAROLINE FONGEMY of Jackson Park Elementary was named the system's runner-up Teacher of the Year. She received $500 from First Financial Group of America. The remaining nominees received $100 from First Financial:
Lauren Dobbin, Fred L. Wilson Elementary School
Tim Downing, Kannapolis Middle School
Alison Dwire, Woodrow Wilson Elementary School
Larry Efird, A.L. Brown High School
Karessa Lattimore, Shady Brook Elementary School
Amanda Trexler, Forest Park Elementary School