• Gaston County Schools names ‘Of the Year’ winners for 2023-2024

    Truist serves as sponsor for Evening of Excellence awards ceremony

    Gastonia, N.C. – Four employees received the most prestigious awards presented by Gaston County Schools during the 2023 Evening of Excellence ceremony, which honors outstanding educators.  Truist sponsored the dinner event, which was held on Tuesday, May 2, at the Gaston Country Club to coincide with National Teacher Appreciation Day.

    The ‘Of the Year’ winners, who were named during the 6:00 p.m. ceremony, include:

    • Teacher of the Year: Melissa Clements of Belmont Middle School;
    • Principal of the Year: Justin Beam of North Belmont Elementary School;
    • Assistant Principal of the Year: Josh Bromley of Forestview High School; and
    • Central Office Administrator of the Year: Curtis Poplin, network systems manager, Technology Support Services Department.

    Below is biography information for each award recipient:

    Gaston County Teacher of the Year
    The 2023-2024 Gaston County Teacher of the Year is Melissa Clements from Belmont Middle School.

    Clements, a seventh grade English/language arts teacher, has worked in the education profession for 20 years, teaching seventh grade for 17 years.  She is a graduate of Appalachian State University with a bachelor’s degree in public relations and communications.  She later obtained an education degree, completing the required coursework at various schools.  She also earned AIG (academically or intellectually gifted) licensure from UNC-Charlotte.   

    The finalists for Teacher of the Year included Lindsay Dickerson Beverly, Forestview High School; Joanna Kirk Dotson, Tryon Elementary School; Michael Kaufman, East Gaston High School; and Jamie Monk, Highland School of Technology.

    Gaston County Principal of the Year
    The 2023-2024 Gaston County Principal of the Year is Justin Beam from North Belmont Elementary School.

    A product of Gaston County Schools, Beam graduated from Cherryville High School and earned a bachelor’s degree in technology education from UNC-Asheville.  He obtained a master’s degree in school administration from UNC-Charlotte.  Beam began his teaching career in 2000, first teaching at Cherryville High School and then at Ashbrook High School.  He later served as the instructional technology facilitator at Ashbrook and the health sciences academy coordinator and assistant principal at Highland School of Technology before being named the principal of John Chavis Middle School.  He has served as the North Belmont principal since 2016.

    The finalists for Principal of the Year included Bryan Denton, Hunter Huss High School; Jessica Steiner, Stuart W. Cramer High School; Jaime Wallace, Brookside Elementary School; and Sheila Wyont, Bessemer City High School.

    Assistant Principal of the Year
    The 2023-2024 Gaston County Schools Assistant Principal of the Year is Josh Bromley from Forestview High School.

    Bromley began his career in education as a high school math teacher in Lincoln County Schools and joined Gaston County Schools in 2018 as an assistant principal at Forestview.  He earned a bachelor’s degree in math and computer science from the University of Pittsburgh, a master’s degree in technology and leadership from Michigan State University, and executive leadership licensure from Gardner-Webb University.  He obtained a doctorate degree in curriculum teaching and learning from Northeastern University.

    The finalists for Assistant Principal of the Year included Michael Dermott, Mount Holly Middle School; Doug Doorley, Lowell Elementary School; NaKishia Glenn, North Gaston High School; and Janet Ramsey, Robinson Elementary School.

    Central Office Administrator of the Year
    The 2023-2024 Gaston County Schools Central Office Administrator of the Year is Curtis Poplin, network systems manager, Technology Support Services Department.

    Poplin joined Gaston County Schools in 2007 as a technology specialist, and three years later, he was promoted to local area network/wide area network engineer.  He became the network systems manager in 2014. He is a graduate of East Carolina University with a bachelor’s degree in decision sciences.  Prior to working for Gaston County Schools, he was employed by Data Networks, an information technology services company.

    The finalists for Central Office Administrator of the Year included Shannon Hullett, director of elementary instruction, Academic Services Department; Celeste Sadler, coordinator of professional development, Academic Services Department; Robin Setzer, elementary instruction facilitator, Academic Services Department; and Alan Sprout, information technology operations manager, Technology Support Services Department.

    The Gaston County Schools Human Resources Department organizes the annual awards program and facilitates the ‘Of the Year’ selection process.  The Evening of Excellence ceremony pays tribute to the school district’s most outstanding educators for their exceptional leadership and many contributions to the public schools in Gaston County.

    As the Teacher of the Year and Principal of the Year, Clements and Beam will represent Gaston County in the regional competitions for 2023-2024.

    Superintendent of Schools W. Jeffrey Booker stated, “Each year, our Evening of Excellence ceremony gives us an opportunity to bring attention to the extraordinary efforts of our teachers, administrators, and others, who go above and beyond expectations every day to inspire success and a lifetime of learning in our students.  We congratulate the award recipients and salute all of our educators for what they do to support children – they are the superstars of Gaston County Schools.”
    Dr. Booker added, “We would like to express our sincere appreciation to Truist for sponsoring this important employee recognition program.  Truist is one of our significant business partners, and we are grateful for the bank’s support of our Evening of Excellence dinner and ceremony again this year.”

    In addition to Truist serving as the event sponsor, Courage Kia in Gastonia provided sponsorship as well, presenting a vehicle lease agreement for a new Kia Seltos to the 2023-2024 Gaston County Teacher of the Year.  With the presentation of a vehicle to the Teacher of the Year, Courage Kia is reviving a tradition that has not been done in a number of years.  Courage Kia also presented a $100 service certificate to all honorees who were recognized during the program.

    The Evening of Excellence ceremony was recorded, and it will air on Spectrum Cable Channel 21, the Education Station for Gaston County Schools, the week of May 8-14 at 9:00 a.m., 1:00 p.m., and 8:00 p.m.  The video will air at other times this summer, and it will be available for viewing on the Gaston County Schools website and YouTube channel.

VIDEO: Evening of Excellence Ceremony