Valle Crucis teacher Mitchell Wright was named Watauga County Schools district-wide Teacher of the Year in surprise ceremony held Friday morning at the school.

Wright was presented the award by Superintendent Dr. Scott Elliott, Wright’s family, school board members and North Carolina Teacher of the Year Freebird Mckinney.

Each year, Watauga County Schools celebrates its Teacher of the Year winner with a surprise ceremony. Wright was presented his award in front of the school’s students and staff who were assembled in the gym.

Valle Crucis Principal Preston Clarke said Wright had a great impact on the students and staff at his school.

“One of the most important things a school principal can do is to hire good quality teachers,” Clarke said. “There is almost nothing else that has a greater impact on the culture and quality of a school. I can say for sure that hiring Mitchell Wright is one of the best things I’ve done for Valle Crucis in my time here.”

Elliott said teachers like Wright are invaluable to Watauga County Schools.

“Our Watauga County Schools teachers are a special group of professionals,” Elliott said. “They create the magic that brings education to life and inspires our students to learn and grow. I am deeply grateful to teachers like Mr. Wright for their dedication, their passion and above all, their commitment to our children.”

Watauga County Schools Teachers of the Year are selected by their peers at each school. The Watauga County Schools District-wide Teacher of the Year is chosen through a process that includes interviews, unannounced teacher observations in classrooms, and a review of a written statement of teaching philosophy prepared by each candidate.

This year’s selection committee included Green Valley Principal Phil Norman, last year’s Teacher of the year Terri Hodges, School Board Vice Chair Brenda Reese, WCS Technology Director Nancy Zeiss and Parkway teacher Jennifer Lacy.