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Cumberland County Teacher & Principal Of The Year


By Renarta Clanton Moyd

A high school choral director and an elementary school principal have been named Teacher of the Year and Principal of the Year for the Cumberland County public school system.

Amy Stovall and Michael C. Tucker were awarded the titles in separate ceremonies at the Crown Ballroom this fall. Each now moves on to regional competitions.

Stovall is the choral director at Gray’s Creek High School and teaches chorus and music classes. She said she was inspired to become a music educator while studying at the University of North Carolina at Pembroke, where she earned a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree in music education.

At UNCP, she tried singing for the first time and said she struggled to find her voice.

She found encouragement and inspiration in the form of music professor Gary Wright, who led UNCP’s choral groups until his death in 2010. Stovall said Wright’s “genuine passion for teaching and mentoring led me to my own passion for choral music.”

Stovall said, “The beauty of the human voice and the joy of making music with others finally guided me to a realization that not only did I want to do this for the rest of my life, but I wanted to do for others what Dr. Wright had done for me.”

Since then, Stovall has taken great pride in developing the musical gifts of students who have gone on to receive Superior ratings at state adjudication events, earn chairs in the highly competitive N.C. Honors Chorus, place first in class at Festival Disney multiple times and perform with the rock band Foreigner as well as with several area university choirs.

She said her teaching philosophy revolves around making certain that all students, regardless of their race, religion, socio-economic status and physical or intellectual ability be afforded the opportunity to fully explore the world of music.

“I endeavor to establish a classroom environment of equality where students can explore and discover without being afraid of prejudice,” she said. “Each of them is important and valued for who they are.”

Stovall said her classroom offers opportunities both for novice students and highly trained musicians.

“My classroom is one of consistent high standards where students are encouraged to fail often and ‘fail big’ so that they may learn effectively. I foster an attitude of acceptance of others’ strengths and weaknesses by giving students the opportunity to lead and teach in the classroom,” she said. “In this way, students become more invested in the overall process of creating music together and finding a sense of compassion and appreciation for their peers.”

Stovall has been a teacher for 13 years and has taught in Scotland and Robeson counties as well as in Cumberland.

The other finalists for Teacher of the Year included Sarah Hughes (Cumberland International Early College High); Valerie Israel (Seventy-First Classical Middle); Nattlie McArthur (Jack Britt High); Emily Richards (Long Hill Elementary); Monica Robbins (South View Middle); Doris Price (Vanstory Hills Elementary); Daniel Smith (Westover High); Richard Thomas (Owen Elementary); and Amber Wrench (Armstrong Elementary).

Michael Tucker is in his first year as principal of Stoney Point Elementary but has been a school administrator for 11 years and an educator for 19.

Through the years, he said he has come to see that classroom teachers are the most important factor in student academic achievement.

Tucker said he sees it as his duty “to encourage, support and develop teachers to help students reach their full academic potential.”

He said, “One of the ways I keep my staff focused on student learning is (by) reminding them that although they teach elementary students, they play a major role in helping students graduate from high school. If students leave elementary school reading, writing, and problem solving on or above grade level, they will be able to successfully advance through secondary school and have the skills necessary to graduate career and college ready.”

Tucker earned a bachelor’s degree in history at Fayetteville State University. He holds two master’s degrees – one in modern American history from Temple University and one in school administration from FSU.

The other finalists for Principal of the Year included Pamela Adams-Watkins (Massey Hill Classical High); Michele Cain (Cumberland Road Elementary); Christina DiGaudio (Ireland Drive Middle); Christina Tucker (Ponderosa Elementary); Stephanie Wall Rivers (Montclair Elementary); and Jackie White (College Lakes Elementary).