ROWAN COUNTY, N.C. (WBTV) - It was a day of surprises and joy for two educators in the Rowan-Salisbury Schools. The Teacher of the Year and Principal of the Year were both named, and neither had any idea what was coming.
School leaders boarded an F&M trolley on Monday afternoon and paid a surprise visit to Knollwood Elementary School. Principal Shonda Hairston wasn’t there, but was on the way back. While the students filled the auditorium, school leaders, Hairston’s family, and Superintendent Dr. Lynn Moody waited behind a curtain.
When Hairston arrived, the curtain was pulled back. Dr. Moody made the announcement, and Hairston was overcome with emotion.
Hairston’s family was in on it…after spending some time with them, she worked the crowd, hugging students and staff, and exemplifying why it’s a fitting tribute.
Hairston said she believed that the district’s Renewal status has given her school the freedom and flexibility to better meet the needs of students.
“I think we need to think outside the box and look at our learners and rally pay attention to what they need, and I think we need to be fearless in pursuing that and I think I have been able to do that this year and last," Hairston said.
Hairston was honored several years ago with Principal of the Year award. She is in her 13th year as principal at Knollwood.
The trolley then made a stop at the Rowan County Early College in the 600 building at Rowan-Cabarrus Community College, where Superintendent Dr. Lynn Moody surprised Theresa Pierce with the news that she was, once again, Teacher of the Year.
“I was puzzled as to why we were having an assembly because I just heard about it out of the blue," Pierce said.
With that honor comes a pretty big prize…the use of a new Kia Optima with insurance and maintenance paid for a year, provided by Gerry Wood Auto Group.
Pierce says the county has a lot of great educators and she is especially honored to have this title again now in her 35th year as a teacher.
“I know it sounds like something people say, but so many teachers made a difference in my life and that’s what I wanted to do for other people and that is my goal, to listen to every conversation to be a blessing to every single kid that walks in that door," Pierce said. "For me now that I’m older it’s more about building up the profession and encouraging young people to become teachers because for me it’s the best profession in the world ever.”
Pierce previously was honored as Teacher of the Year during her time at Overton Elementary School.