EDITOR'S NOTE: An earlier version of this article failed to mention that Ric Vandett was regional teacher of the year in 1989-90, while he was an English teacher at North Wilkes High School. Vandett no longer teaches in Wilkes. Dianne Minton of Wilkes Central High School was also named regional teacher of the year in 1998-99. She retired from the school in 2009.

A math teacher at Wilkes Central High School has been named 2018-19 Northwest Region Teacher of the Year.

Laura Snipes Brooks didn’t know she had been selected for the honor until it was announced during a ceremony Thursday morning at Wilkes Central. Brooks was named the Wilkes County Schools 2018-19 Teacher of the Year in April.

In winning the regional award, Brooks receives a one-time stipend of $5,000, framed certificates and posters for display at Wilkes Central and a mobile device from Lenovo.

Brooks was introduced during the ceremony Thursday by the state’s 2017-18 teacher of the year, Bryan “Freebird” McKinney of Walter M. Williams High School in Burlington.

McKinney said Brooks’ said fellow teachers described her as “the full package--a great person, teacher and colleague.”

Brooks said the award is “not about me, not at all. I owe everything to my family, who raised me well here in Wilkes County. It’s about everybody who has helped me along the way.”

She said she has taught in Burlington, Raleigh and London, England, but Wilkes Central tops all those other schools. “I’ve seen the world, but this is the best school ever.”

Brooks urged students in the audience who might be contemplating teaching as a career to “put in the time, put in the hard work, because teaching is a wonderful profession.”

Brooks, as one of nine regional teachers of the year, now advances to the competition for North Carolina Teacher of the Year.

The Northwest region encompasses the Wilkes, Alexander, Alleghany, Ashe, Avery, Burke, Caldwell, Catawba, Hickory, McDowell, Mitchell, Newton-Conover, Watauga and Yancey school districts.

Interviews for the statewide competition are on Feb. 25 at the Umstead Resort and Spa in Cary. The state banquet, in which the state teacher of the year is announced, is April 12 at the same resort. The Burroughs Wellcome Fund sponsors the state teacher of the year process.

Dr. Jim Brooks, a current English teacher at West Wilkes High School, was regional teacher of the year in 1996-97. Ric Vandett was regional teacher of the year in 1989-90, while he was an English teacher at North Wilkes High School. Vandett no longer teaches in Wilkes. Dianne Minton was regional teacher of the year in 1998-99. She retired from Wilkes Central High School in 2009.

“I owe everything to the teachers in this room who taught me and the principals in this room who instructed me,” said Brooks on April 19 during the Wilkes County Teacher of the Year ceremony at the Stone Center,

She thanked those who supported her, in particular her grandparents and mother, also educators in Wilkes.

Brooks is a 2006 N.C. Teaching Fellows graduate of Elon University. She began her teaching career at C.C. Wright Elementary School in August 2006.

Wilkes Superintendent of Schools Mark Byrd, presenting the honor in April, said, “If you were to walk into (Brooks’) classroom, you would recognize quickly that (she) has the knowledge to be a successful teacher leader, but, most importantly, (she has) the passion to see all students succeed.

“Regardless of the challenge, this teacher seeks student-centered solutions, thinking outside the box to reach all students in (her) classroom,” Byrd said.

“After many years of serving as a school administrator, you know that a teacher is meeting the needs of students in and out of the classroom when (they) begin to beg to be placed with the teacher each year,” he said.

Brooks “works to bring relevance to (her) subject area, is a leader of classroom instruction with other staff and is passionate about having the opportunity to make students excited” about learning.

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