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Elon alumna named North Carolina Teacher of the Year

Tyronna Hooker G'09, an exceptional children’s teacher at Graham Middle School in Graham, N.C., and a 2009 graduate of Elon University's Master of Education program, has been named the 2011-12 North Carolina Teacher of the Year.

Tyronna Hooker G'09

Hooker succeeds Jennifer Facciolini, a social studies teacher at Midway High School in Sampson County.

As North Carolina Teacher of the Year, Hooker will spend the next school year traveling the state as an ambassador for the teaching profession. She will receive an automobile to use during the year she serves as Teacher of the Year, an engraved vase, a one-time cash award of $7,500, a trip to the National Teacher of the Year conference, the opportunity to travel abroad through an endowment at the North Carolina Center for International Understanding, and a technology package valued at more than $17,000 from SMART Technologies.

She also will serve as an adviser to the State Board of Education for two years.

In accepting the award at an April 6 banquet in Cary, N.C., Hooker said being North Carolina’s Teacher of the Year provides her with additional opportunities to inspire others. “As teachers, we must seek opportunities to motivate, engage and provoke critical thinking amongst not only our students, but ourselves," she said. "I can’t wait to share teaching experiences with my colleagues across the state."

Hooker originally pursued a career in criminal justice after graduating from North Carolina Central University. While serving as a therapeutic foster parent for the Elon Homes for Children, a child described to her the difficulties he faced in school as a result of how the public school system was set up.

She vowed to make a difference and earned her teaching certificate in 2005.

During her first year of teaching, she said she was forced to change her mentality about interactions with students. “I came from a mindset of being in law enforcement,” she told University Relations last year. “People do what you tell them, there’s not a lot of free will. My first year was definitely the toughest.”

Hooker said within her classroom, she often notices that students have a strong desire to learn, regardless of what they do and do not have. “I have to step back and look at the things that I take for granted,” she said. “It’s a reminder daily that we take things for granted and we don’t know where these kids are coming from. Embrace what you have and try to fill in the spaces.”

In making the presentation, State Superintendent June Atkinson said Hooker is a wonderful example of the exceptional teachers leading public school classrooms across the state.

“Tyronna brings a unique set of skills to the classroom given her previous work experience in the criminal justice system and social services. She has seen what often happens to children who have not been successful in school,” Atkinson said. “This has translated into a ‘setbacks are setups for comebacks’ philosophy where her students are concerned.”

State Board of Education Chairman Bill Harrison also congratulated Hooker on her selection. “Ms. Hooker’s pathway to the classroom may not have been traditional but it illustrates that good teachers come to the profession from many different backgrounds. Her students are fortunate that she chose to teach, and they are benefitting from her dedication and perspective.

Hooker has taught for nine years at Graham Middle School. She is a member of the National Education Association, the North Carolina Association of Educators and the Alamance-Burlington Association of Educators.

She is a member of the school’s design team, which enables her to work closely with staff members as they design learning experiences for their students. She has participated in Shelter Instruction Observation Protocol (a program to support the learning needs of English language learners), completed training for Corrective Reading© instruction, and is currently training to provide instruction in Literacy First Intensive©. She is a member of the school’s Response to Intervention team, an incentive coordinator for the Positive Behavior Intervention Support program and a mentor for new teachers.

Hooker has received a number of awards including Alamance-Burlington School System Teacher of the Year 2010-11, Graham Middle School Teacher of the Year 2010-11, Graham Middle School Outstanding Teacher Award (September 2008), Gold’s Gym Teacher of the Month Award (January 2007) and a students’ award for The Best All Around award for teaching (June 2006).

She completed her undergraduate studies at North Carolina Central University where she earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in criminal justice in 1993. An online learning program offered through her alma mater allowed her to complete the North Carolina Teacher Certification program in December 2005. She earned her master's degree with a specialization in Special Education from Elon University in 2009.

North Carolina has recognized outstanding teachers through its Teacher of the Year program since 1970.

- Information provided in a news release from the Alamance-Burlington School System

Eric Townsend,
5/6/2011 10:45 AM