Third grade teacher Darcy Grimes of Bethel Elementary has been chosen as the Watauga County Schools Teacher of the Year for 2011-12. Grimes was selected for the honor from among the nine school-wide Teachers of the Year in the Watauga County Schools.
She will succeed current Teacher of the Year Mary Kent Whitaker, an English teacher at Watauga High School.
The other eight school-wide Teachers of the Year for 2011-12 are Kim Bentley of Green Valley, Amber Cooper of Valle Crucis, Ron Hopper of Watauga High School, Jennifer Lacy of Parkway, Allyson McFalls of Blowing Rock, Tonya McKinney of Mabel, Kelly Roten of Hardin Park, and Laura Young of Cove Creek. Grimes was presented with the award in a surprise visit to her classroom by Superintendent Dr. Marty Hemric, Board of Education Chair Deborah Miller and members of the Board of Education, her parents and husband, and several school system personnel. She said “I really didn’t expect this. I love teaching here and it’s an honor to teach in this county.” Referring to her students, Grimes said “I just do it for them. That’s why I’m here.”
A graduate of Appalachian State University, Grimes first joined the Watauga County Schools as the after school site director at Blowing Rock while still a student at ASU. After graduating, she began her teaching career at Moravian Falls Elementary in Wilkes County, where she served for three years before coming to Bethel in August of 2009.
Bethel Principal Randy Bentley described Grimes as “a person born to teach. She has a passion for teaching that transforms into student excitement about learning. If you are feeling down and watch her at work in the classroom, it makes the whole world better.” Bentley especially praised Grimes for her skills at using technology to enhance classroom instruction. Grimes is an Intel Master Teacher and is currently pursuing a master’s degree in instructional technology at ASU. “Other people talk about 21st century instruction. She already does it,” said Bentley. Superintendent Dr. Marty Hemric said that the selection of Grimes as Teacher of the Year is a well deserved honor for her. “We have so many excellent teachers in this school system that choosing the best is a very difficult process. We are extremely proud of the Teachers of the Year at every school, and we are truly thankful for the tremendous service that Ms. Grimes and her colleagues provide to our students.”
The process for selecting the Watauga County Schools Teacher of the Year includes five unannounced classroom observations, a review of a written statement of teaching philosophy from each candidate, and an interview. The selection committee includes representation from teachers, principals, the Board of Education, and the Watauga County Schools central office.
Each school’s Teacher of the Year receives $350 from the Watauga County Schools in recognition of their award. As Watauga County Schools Teacher of the Year, Grimes will receive an additional $350 from the Watauga County Schools.
With a total enrollment of 174 students in pre-kindergarten through eighth grade, Bethel is the smallest school in the Watauga County Schools but it is enjoying a big year in local recognition. In addition to the selection of Grimes as the new Teacher of the Year, Bethel students won the county Battle of the Books competition at the middle school level and Bethel 8th grader Destin Lerch won the district Spelling Bee.
Grimes will now be a candidate for regional Teacher of the Year from the northwestern section of the state. The statewide Teacher of the Year will be selected from among the regional winners later this year.