The Wilkes County Schools’ Beginning Teacher of the Year for 2020-21 has been named a finalist for this year’s Prudential N.C. Beginning Teacher of the Year Award.

She is Alexandra Allen, a seventh-grade science and social studies teacher at North Wilkes Middle School. She completed her first year as a teacher in 2019-20, making her eligible for the competition.

North Middle Principal Heather Freeman nominated Allen and said she is an outstanding teacher with a gift of making students, parents and colleagues feel at ease.

She said Allen maintains high expectations for students and helps them believe what they can accomplish, while trying to find ways to make them better and more efficient.

“She is accessible and approachable to her students, and truly has a desire to see them succeed,” said Freeman, adding that Allen drives over 80 miles daily from Banner Elk to teach in Wilkes.

The awards were developed by the N.C. Center for the Advancement of Teaching to honor beginning teachers and retain potential excellent teachers in state public schools.

Dalton Lewis, an English and social studies teacher at Ashe County Middle School, is among the finalists.

The other finalists are from the Richmond, Davie, Johnston, Cleveland, Wilson, Guilford, Brunswick, New Hanover, Macon, Henderson, Pitt, Northampton, Scotland, Union, Harnett and Wake county schools; the Clover Garden, Weldon, Thomasville, Asheville, Rowan-Salisbury, Newton-Conover and Clinton schools; and Envision Science Academy and STARS Charter School.

The finalists’ travel expenses to participate in NCCAT professional development and leadership development are being covered.

The winner will receive a $5,000 cash prize, be able to participate in a GoGlobal NC trip and instructional supply funds for the teacher’s school.

The runner-up receives a $2,000 cash prize.

The award for North Carolina beginning teacher of the year will be presented April 15 at the NCCAT main campus in Cullowhee.

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