VIDEO: Finalists announced for Evening of Excellence

  • Gaston County Schools announces finalists for Evening of Excellence 

    With its annual Evening of Excellence awards ceremony coming up in May, Gaston County Schools is proud to announce the finalists for six “Of the Year” categories: Teacher of the Year, New Teacher of the Year, Teacher Assistant of the Year, Principal of the Year, Assistant Principal of the Year, and Central Office Administrator of the Year.

    The top five finalists in each category were revealed on March 27 in a video premiere on Spectrum Channel 21 and YouTube.  The finalists will continue in the selection process that will culminate with the announcement of the winners during the Evening of Excellence celebration on Thursday, May 2 at Stuart W. Cramer High School.

    Here is a look at the finalists for each category (listed in alphabetical order):

    Teacher of the Year
    Jennifer Hallman, North Gaston High School
    Melissa Harris, Bessemer City Primary School
    Lisa Montgomery, North Belmont Elementary School
    Cara Shelton-Harper, Bessemer City Middle School
    Brandon Taylor, East Gaston High School

    New Teacher of the Year
    Emma Cloninger, North Belmont Elementary School
    Erin Fletcher, Chapel Grove Elementary School
    Anna Jessup, Cherryville Elementary School
    Savannah Swanson, W.A. Bess Elementary School
    Sue-Ann Taylor Folkes, Pleasant Ridge Elementary School

    Teacher Assistant of the Year
    Linda Anderson, Bessemer City Primary School
    McKenzie Barkley, W.A. Bess Elementary School
    Marianne Gibson, Springfield Elementary School
    Amy Giles, H.H. Beam Elementary School
    Robin Hensley, Bessemer City Primary School

    Principal of the Year
    Mitch Allen, Chapel Grove Elementary School
    Lorinda Brusie, Kiser Elementary School
    Bryan Denton, Hunter Huss High School
    Jessica Mellon, Bessemer City Middle School
    Chris Mills, Webb Street School

    Assistant Principal of the Year
    Stephanie Denton, York Chester Middle School
    Chris Dixon, East Gaston High School
    Charlotte Friday, W.A. Bess Elementary School
    Tangela Hinton, Sherwood Elementary School
    Courtney Williams, Webb Street School

    Central Office Administrator of the Year
    Caroline Black, Human Resources, Beginning Teacher Support Coordinator
    Melissa Buchanan, Human Resources, Mentor Support Coordinator
    Sean Corcoran, Communications, Web Communications Coordinator
    Kathleen D’Avria, Academic Services, Director of High School Instruction
    Steve Smith, Accountability, Data Integration Specialist

    This year’s Evening of Excellence ceremony is a red carpet celebration of outstanding educators in Gaston County Schools.  The ceremony begins at 6:30 p.m., and all employees in Gaston County Schools are invited to attend.  Truist Bank is sponsoring the event with additional partnership support from the Gaston County Education Foundation and Courage Kia in Gastonia.

    Superintendent of Schools Morgen A. Houchard stated, “We would like to congratulate the 30 educators who have been chosen as finalists for our Evening of Excellence awards ceremony.  The finalists represent all employees in Gaston County Schools and the work they do each day to support students and contribute to our success.  We also would like to acknowledge the employees who were nominated for our “Of the Year” awards.  Although five finalists were chosen for each award, all of the nominees were deserving, and we thank them for their dedicated service to our schools.”

    Dr. Houchard added, “We also want to express our sincere appreciation to Truist for sponsoring the ceremony again this year, and we are pleased to have additional support from Courage Kia and the Gaston County Education Foundation.  Because of their contributions, we anticipate having an Evening of Excellence program that will be enjoyable, memorable, and suspenseful as we recognize the ‘best of the best’ in Gaston County Schools and announce our ‘Of the Year’ award recipients for 2024-2025.”

    The Teacher of the Year and Principal of the Year winners will go on to represent Gaston County Schools in the regional competition that leads to the North Carolina Teacher of the Year and North Carolina Principal of the Year recognitions.  The New Teacher of the Year winner will represent Gaston County Schools in the North Carolina Beginning Teacher of the Year recognition program, which is conducted by the N.C. Center for the Advancement of Teaching (NCCAT).

Meet the Finalists