CMS announces Teacher of the Year finalists


Pictured above: Left to Right (Top: Tyler Erb, Precious Kotte, Cherelle Phelps Bottom: Nancy Pursley, Alicianna Smith, Kimberly Tuttle) – Pictures courtesy of Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools


CHARLOTTE, N.C., April 24, 2019 — Chief Academic Officer Brian Kingsley announced the six finalists for the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools 2019 Teacher of the Year at a media briefing on April 24. “As Teacher Appreciation Month grows near, we want to celebrate the excellent teachers we have in CMS,” said Kingsley. “Every child deserves a great teacher and these six finalists represent great teaching in our district.”

The finalists are:

Tyler Erb, Community House Middle, Southwest Learning Community: Erb knew he wanted to be a teacher when he was a middle-schooler in Valley City, Ohio. “My sister and I grew up with a single mom,” said Erb. “She was a sixth-grade math teacher and every morning, she drove us to school. There’s no stronger role model than a great mom who loves her kids and math. I always looked up to her.” Read more about him here.

Precious Kotte, Metro School, Central 2 Learning Community: Kotte describes the energy in her classroom at Metro School as “exuberant.” That positive energy is quickly apparent to anyone who visits her classroom. Kotte’s classroom has students who are all 18- to 22-year-old students with severe autism. “They love to be interactive,” she said. “We do a lot of work on integrating brain-body behavior, movement and learning how to activate their brains through movement to have a better chance at getting through our coursework.” Read more about her here.

Cherelle Phelps, West Charlotte High, Central 1 Learning Community: Phelps thrives on the culture at her school. “We have a colorful, vibrant, high-spirited culture,” she said. “When I came here, I learned about the school’s deep history. This is a place that prides itself on history and culture. The adults and the students here take pride in that. I’m honored to be chosen by my peers to represent them because I know who I work with. There are some strong, amazing teachers here.” Read more about her here.

Nancy Pursley, Huntersville Elementary, Northwest Learning Community: Pursley’s passion for special education began in childhood. Her brother was born with an intellectual disability and Pursley became his fierce advocate. Pursley has a strong belief that all children can learn and is committed to helping meet students where they are. She had a kindergarten student this year who was highly frustrated due to his inability to communicate. “The only thing he found comforting was an iPad or TV,” said Pursley. “We were able to give him a routine and a picture schedule. He is much calmer and less frustrated. Now he goes to the picture schedule and tells us what he wants to do. Before, he felt like the world was happening to him. Now he sees that he has some control and can communicate what he needs.” Read more about her here.

Alicianna Smith, Stoney Creek Elementary, Northeast Learning Community: Hanging outside Smith’s second-grade classroom at Stoney Creek Elementary is a bulletin board featuring photos of frequent guest speakers and her students. At the beginning of the school year, Smith asks her students what careers they are interested in and twice a month, she brings in a guest speaker to talk to them about those careers. Her students have heard from a scientist, a lawyer, a chef and a football player. When several students expressed an interest in being a principal, she invited Harding University High’s Eric Ward to talk to her students. “He did a great job,” said Smith. “So good that several weeks later, one of my students was saving money because Mr. Ward told them college is expensive and he wanted to get started.” Read more about Smith here.

Kimberly Tuttle, Levine Middle College High, Southeast Learning Community: Tuttle began her teaching career 20 years ago at West Charlotte High. At the end of her first year, she was named CMS New Teacher of the Year. This year, she is the Southeast Learning Community Teacher of the Year. “This has been really cool to have all this come full circle after 20 years of teaching,” said Tuttle. Her first few years of teaching were some of her best, said Tuttle, who now teaches 11th-grade English Honors and Advanced Placement language and composition. Read more about Tuttle here.

The 2019 CMS Teacher of the Year will be announced on May at 4:30 p.m. at Mallard Creek High. This is the fourth year that law firm Charles Monnett & Associates are sponsoring the Teacher and Teacher Assistant of the Year Celebration.

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