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CHHS English teacher Kimberly Jones wins state Teacher of the Year

Kimberly-jones
State Superintendent of Public Instruction, Catherine Truitt, presents the NC Teacher of the Year award to Kimberly Jones of Chapel Hill High School. Photo courtesy of Kimberly Jones.

On April 14, Kimberly Jones received the 2023 Burroughs Wellcome Fund North Carolina Teacher of the Year title. Jones is an English teacher at Chapel Hill High School. 

The selection pool included nine finalists, each representing one of North Carolina’s eight education districts and charter schools. 

Jones is the second CHCCS teacher to receive the award in the last three years. Eugenia Floyd, a teacher at Mary Scroggs Elementary School, was named Teacher of the Year in 2021.

“It certainly reflects positively that this is a district that allows teachers to be their authentic selves,” Andy Jenks, the chief communications officer for CHCCS, said. “That translates into an effective, memorable and in some cases, perhaps transformational educational experience for our students as well as our colleagues.”

During the last 10 months, Jones was named the North Central Region Teacher of the Year and the CHCCS District Teacher of the Year. 

Jones lives in Danville, Virginia, which is over an hour's commute to CHHS. She said the drive is worth it because CHHS is where she has grown and developed her voice, persona and educational philosophy. 

“It’s been a school and a school district that has centered equity and prioritized cultural relevance and culturally responsive teaching and cultural inclusiveness,” she said. 

Jones said her mother was her first teacher, nurturing her work ethic and her desire to serve other people. She said she was inspired by the incredible teachers in her hometown of Erwin, North Carolina.

She said they helped empower a version of herself that she didn’t know existed, which motivated her to become an educator and incorporate diverse perspectives into her curriculum. 

Jones graduated with a Master's of Education from Wake Forest University and has been teaching at CHHS for 17 years. 

This year, Jones teaches standard and honors English for sophomores. Jones also co-coordinates the CHHS Advancement Via Individual Determination program and teaches an honors AVID class.  AVID is a national program that uses research-proven strategies to help better prepare students for college.

Kimberly Lindekugel, an English teacher at CHHS, said she is Jones’s best friend and colleague of 17 years. She said Jones is an amazing person and educator. 

“She takes great care in how she presents material and who the students are and making sure that all the students in her room feel seen and heard,” Lindekugel said. 

She said Jones is great at fostering conversations about uncomfortable topics and material in a non-threatening way, which allows people to listen without getting defensive.

“I think kids have to feel safe,” Jones said. “They have to feel welcome, affirmed, included and validated and once you build those kinds of trusting relationships, you can push them, push them to meet those high academic and social goals that you have for them.”

Joanne McClelland, an English teacher at CHHS, said in an email that Jones has a heart for serving her students.

“She epitomizes what every teacher in the state of North Carolina should strive to be: a guiding light for every single child that comes through the doors of their classroom,” she said.

Supported by the Burroughs Wellcome Fund and the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction, Jones will travel across North Carolina during the next school year as a teacher ambassador, according to a press release from CHCCS.

Jones’s personal platform advocates for increasing diversity of the teaching curriculum and advancing culturally responsive and inclusive curricula in North Carolina.

“I’m super, super excited to have the opportunity to be an ambassador for all the incredible teachers who I know, every day, are pouring their hearts and souls into improving our future and empowering students and striving to make our state and ultimately our world a better place,” she said. 

@ZoeWerner356

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