Marcus Gear, an eighth grade social studies teacher at Smith Middle School, was sitting at his computer and grading assignments when he received an email — he had been named one of Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools' CHAMPions.
The CHAMPion, or Celebrating Heroes and Magnificent People, program is a partnership between Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools and the Chapel Hill-Carrboro Public School Foundation that recognizes outstanding students, staff and community members for their work and contributions to the district.
Nominations can be submitted by community members through the CHAMPion portal on the CHCCS website. Sarita Allen, the associate director for support of the Public School Foundation, said final honorees are then decided by a committee of individuals from throughout the district.
The CHAMPion program was first organized during the 2021-22 school year. Honorees are recognized quarterly, and the committee aims to name five to six each round.
This quarter’s four honorees are Gear, Ephesus Elementary School crossing guard Larry Chadbourne, Phillips Middle School sixth grade social studies teacher and field hockey coach Kelly Fox and East Chapel Hill High School Exceptional Children resource teacher Eimy Rivas Plata.
“I got the email and I was shocked because, being only my second year — just really, really taken aback,” Gear said.
Allen said honorees are visited and presented a goodie bag and a $25 check.
She said the district is thrilled to be able to publicly recognize the honorees for their work.
Gear was nominated for the CHAMPion award by student members of Collective Uplift, an affinity group for young men of color that he started in April at Smith Middle School.