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Surprise announcements reveal award finalists


Superintendent surprises five finalists for Gaston County Teacher of the Year

Five employees in Gaston County Schools got a big surprise recently when Superintendent of Schools W. Jeffrey Booker showed up to announce their selection as a finalist for Gaston County Teacher of the Year.

Booker and representatives of the human resources staff stopped in at Bessemer City Primary School, W.C. Friday Middle School, Gaston County Virtual Academy, Hawks Nest STEAM Academy, and South Point High School on December 17 to share the good news.  The finalists said the surprise announcement was like an early Christmas present as their administrators, students, and colleagues cheered for them and offered congratulatory remarks.

The five finalists for 2022-2023 Gaston County Teacher of the Year are:

Alexandria Caughey of Bessemer City Primary School.  Caughey teaches first grade and has been a teacher for five years.  She earned a bachelor’s degree in elementary education from Belmont Abbey College.

Allie Kleinheinz of Hawks Nest STEAM Academy.  Kleinheinz is a fourth grade teacher and has been teaching for six years.  She earned a Bachelor of Arts in elementary education from UNC-Chapel Hill and is currently pursuing a master’s certificate in elementary mathematics at UNC-Charlotte.

Steven Loudon of W.C. Friday Middle School.  Loudon is a seventh grade math teacher and has been in the education profession for 15 years.  He earned a Bachelor of Science in biblical studies and youth ministry from Emmaus Bible College in Iowa, a Master of Arts in Teaching (elementary education) from UNC-Charlotte, and a master’s in school administration from UNC-Charlotte.

Britnee Reid of Gaston County Virtual Academy.  For the past two years, Reid has taught science virtually for grades 6-8.  She has been in education for nine years.  She earned a Bachelor of Science in elementary education - secondary science from Appalachian State University. 

Heather Ulep Waters of South Point High School.  Waters is an exceptional children’s teacher (general and adapted curriculum).  She has been at South Point for seven years and taught at Webb Street School for six years.  Waters attended Mount Olive College and earned a Bachelor of Arts in special education - general curriculum from UNC-Charlotte.

The 2022-2023 Gaston County Teacher of the Year will be named in May as part of the Gaston County Schools Excellence in Education program, which is sponsored by Truist.  The current Gaston County Teacher of the Year for 2021-2022 is Staci Nezezon of Pinewood Elementary School.