Archived Stories for Union County Public Schools
Hemby Bridge Elementary teacher assistant wins system's top title
April Phillips, a 3-year veteran teacher assistant at Hemby Bridge Elementary, was named the 2011 Teacher Assistant of the Year during the 19th Annual Spring Banquet held Thursday (May 19, 2011) at South Piedmont Community College.
"It's an honor to be named the UCPS Teacher Assistant of the Year for the county," Phillips said. "We are all deserving of this honor and I am proud to serve for this next year."
Phillips, 29, was one of three finalists for the title given by the Union County Chapter of the North Carolina Association of Teacher Assistants (UCNCATA). Krintz Hill, a teacher assistant at Weddington Elementary and Olenma Figueroa-Alvarez, a teacher assistant at Wingate Elementary, where the other two finalists.
UCPS Superintendent Dr. Ed Davis thanked all the teacher assistants for their service to the children of Union County. "I really appreciate what you do," he said. "You make such a difference in the lives of our students and you help our teachers so much."
Davis spoke of his early days of teaching in the 1980s, when he worked as a teacher of middle and high school exceptional children in the Monroe City Schools. He credited his teacher assistants with helping him to be successful.
"I wouldn't have been near the teacher that I was had it not been for those two ladies who assisted me on a daily basis," he said. "They helped make sure I took care of what needed to be taken care of, not only providing for the academic needs of the students, but their vocational needs also, as well as keeping me up to date with all the paperwork. Teacher assistants have always been a vital part of what we do in the school system, and they will continue to be a vital part of what we do."
Just prior to this year's UCPS top teacher assistant being named, last year's winner, Leigh Berry, a teacher assistant at Weddington Elementary, spoke of her year.
"I've been very proud to have been able to represent my school, this county and to represent District Six in the coming year," Berry said.
"I believe that what we do is a calling. I feel strongly that we are where we are for a reason," Berry added. "We're not here by mistake. We've been called to be here, to change lives every day. I'm thankful for that opportunity and for the opportunity I've had this past year to speak up for teacher assistants all over Union County. We are important in the lives of children and we will always be important to those children."
The guest speaker for the evening was UCPS Human Resources Executive Director Lillian Rorie, who spoke about the history of teacher assistants in the United States, beginning with the pilot program in DC in 1953. She spoke on the important role they play in education.
"Teacher assistants have been making a difference in the classroom for a long time," Rorie said. "They make a difference in test scores, behavior modifications and the whole atmosphere of the classroom. I don't have to wonder if TAs make a difference in the classroom. I know they do. I've been in that classroom."
The UCNCATA also awarded three scholarships to UCPS students, all children of teacher assistants in Union County. A $500 scholarship was awarded to Caroline Marie Brewer from Piedmont High School; a $500 scholarship was awarded to Morgan Briana Brown from Parkwood High School; and a $1,000 scholarship was given to Graham David Taylor from Porter Ridge High School.
Phillips will now go on to compete for the District Six teacher assistant of the year title.
Written by: Deb Coates Bledsoe, UCPS Communications Coordinator
Posted: May 20, 2011 by Deb Coates Bledsoe