Teacher of the year CHCCS Roxana Rojas of Seawell Elementary

Roxanna Rojas of Seawell Elementary holds up the Teacher of the Year 2024 award. Photo courtesy of CHCCS.

SCHOOLS

Compiled by Michelle Cassell
Managing Editor 

Roxana Rojas of Seawell Elementary was named the Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools (CHCCS) Teacher of the Year at its annual Recognition Celebration on May 9.

Rojas is a Kindergarten teacher with eight years of teaching experience.  She holds an associate’s degree in early childhood education from Alamance Community College, a bachelor’s degree in birth to Kindergarten education from Greensboro College, and a master’s degree in education from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.  She is the school’s Kindergarten representative on the School Improvement Team and is the school’s equity coach.

“It is a huge honor. I am so deeply proud of this,” Rojas said in her acceptance speech. “I came to the United States when I was 5 years old and struggled so much in school, and as I was growing up I wanted to be the change for other students. And here in Chapel Hill I not only found my voice, I found so much more power in what I can do for my community, for my students and for everyone who’s involved.”

Rojas received a $1,000 check from the Chapel Hill-Carrboro Public School Foundation (PSF).

Two Honor Teachers (District Teacher of the Year finalists) were also recognized on Thursday.  They are:

  • Raquel Harris, creative writing and English language arts teacher, Carrboro High
  • Linda Kroger, seventh grade English language arts teacher, Culbreth Middle

They each received a $500 check from PSF.

All school-based Teachers of the Year were recognized with $100 checks from PSF.  They are:

  • Jessica Bigelow, second grade teacher, Carrboro Elementary
  • Kara O’Dor, second grade teacher, Ephesus Elementary
  • Kathy Thompson, second grade teacher, Estes Hills Elementary
  • Rody Huertas, music teacher, FPG Bilingüe Elementary
  • Shaniece Robinson, fourth grade teacher, Glenwood Elementary
  • Gabriella La Mantia, second grade teacher, McDougle Elementary
  • Stephanie Wittmann, third grade teacher, Morris Grove Elementary
  • Matthew Russell, physical education/healthful living teacher, Northside Elementary
  • Kathryn Rubish, first grade teacher, Rashkis Elementary
  • Kaitlin Braz, third grade teacher, Scroggs Elementary
  • Shorna Smith-Treasure, science teacher, McDougle Middle
  • Evie O’Dor, art teacher, Phillips Middle
  • LaTekka Lewis, sixth and seventh-grade science teacher, Smith Middle
  • Kadie Ondrus, biology teacher, Project Lead the Way (PLTW), Chapel Hill High
  • Jay Wilson, math teacher, East Chapel Hill High
  • Lawre Doughton, social studies teacher, Phoenix Academy High

The Mary Scroggs Award for Excellence in Providing Support Services recognizes a classified (hourly) staff member from each school and several Lincoln Center departments. This year, the district award committee’s vote ended in a tie between two finalists. Lonnie Hatley, a bus driver with the Transportation Department and Robin Nucilli, a communications specialist in the Communications Division at Lincoln Center were named the award recipients. They each received a $1,000 check.

One Honor Recipient (award finalist) who received $500 was also recognized:

  • Mayra Menjivar, a teacher assistant at Carrboro Elementary

Additional Classified Staff of the Year, who each received $100, are:

  • Keona Foushee, receptionist, Ephesus Elementary
  • Mirrani Houpe, teacher assistant, Estes Hills Elementary
  • Aiderling Antequera, teacher assistant, FPG Bilingüe Elementary
  • Ivette Mercado, bookkeeper, Glenwood Elementary
  • Gina Lacava, teacher assistant, McDougle Elementary
  • Kate Celauro, teacher assistant, Morris Grove Elementary
  • Kassidy Plummer, teacher assistant, Northside Elementary
  • Munirih Salazar-Centella, teacher assistant, Rashkis Elementary
  • Natasha Cross, teacher assistant, Scroggs Elementary
  • Anthony Daniels, teacher assistant, Seawell Elementary
  • Ker Htoo, receptionist, Culbreth Middle
  • Jeannine Brinkman, media assistant, McDougle Middle
  • Paw Yeh, custodian, Phillips Middle
  • Kurt Gurley, school resource officer, Smith Middle
  • Lillian Martinez, administrative assistant to the principal, Carrboro High
  • Terésa Sloan, secretary, Chapel Hill High
  • Dora Diaz-Flores, custodian, East Chapel Hill High
  • Aaliyah King, data manager/bookkeeper/receptionist, Phoenix Academy High
  • Andrew Scercy, lead IT support specialist, Information Technology Department, Lincoln Center
  • Jake Jordan, plumbing foreman, Facilities and Maintenance Department, Lincoln Center
  • Elisabeth Suttee, bookkeeper/after-school site director, Community Schools, Lincoln Center

The School Support and Wellness (SSW) Employee of the Year Award recipient is Becky Brown>

The school counselor at FPG Bilingüe Elementary. She also received a check for $1,000.

The two Honor Recipients who each received $500 are:

  • Malissa Bailey, school psychologist at East Chapel Hill High
  • Paige Clarke, mental health specialist at McDougle Elementary

Additional SSW Staff of the Year, who each received $100, are:

  • Kathryn Harrison, school social worker, Carrboro Elementary
  • Emily Snapper, school nurse, Ephesus Elementary
  • Evan Overton, school nurse, Estes Hills Elementary
  • Patty Moore, school social worker, Glenwood Elementary
  • Emily Avetta, school psychologist, Morris Grove Elementary
  • Ronetta Walker, social-emotional learning specialist, Northside Elementary
  • Ashanti Keitt, school social worker, Rashkis Elementary
  • Cecily Lindsey, school nurse, Scroggs Elementary
  • Eileen Stough, school nurse, Seawell Elementary
  • Megan Grimes, restorative practices coach, Culbreth Middle
  • Sarah Morales, school counselor, McDougle Middle
  • Haley Spurlin, school counselor, Phillips Middle
  • Leigh Ann Dasher, school nurse, Smith Middle
  • Gwen Roulhac, testing coordinator, Carrboro High
  • Lorraine Bleeke, school nurse, Chapel Hill High
  • Jessica Wallace, school counselor, Phoenix Academy High

Additional staff awards were also presented at the event.

Tiffany Cheshire of Phillips Middle was recognized as the district’s Principal of the Year, while Shelba Levins of Chapel Hill High was named the district’s Assistant Principal of the Year.

Noa Stuchiner, director of elementary math and science in the Instructional Services, Equity and Engagement Division, Lincoln Center, received the Award for Excellence in District Administration.

Ashley Lang of McDougle Middle received the Jeanette Blackwell Mentor Teacher Award. Lauren Oliver of Culbreth Middle received the PSF Promising New Teacher Award. Camila Morales of FPG Bilingüe Elementary was awarded the Award for Excellence in Teaching Multi-Language Learners. PSF introduced one new teacher award this year: Robin Bulleri of Carrboro High was awarded the Margaret Kepner Distinguished Service Award.

Stephanie Thurber, School Support and Wellness Division, Lincoln Center, received the EC Support Staff Award, and Dana McCullum, Human Resources Division, Lincoln Center, received the Instructional Support Award.

The Chapel Hill-Carrboro Association of Educators (CHCAE) presented two awards this year to CHCAE members. Kristin Baillie of FPG Bilingüe Elementary received the Courageous Educator Award, and Mary Alicia Lyons of Morris Grove Elementary received the Consummate Professional Award.

The Blue Ribbon Mentor-Advocate (BRMA) program presented Joanne McClelland from Chapel Hill High with the Excellence in Equity Award. The students in BRMA select this award.

Representatives of PSF were on hand to present both new and renewing Teaching Chairs. New Chairs are:

  • Lauren Oliver of Culbreth Middle is the Sterling and Anita Hennis Chair for Promising New Secondary Teachers of English Language Arts or Social Studies
  • Austin Tortorici of Phillips Middle is the GlaxoSmithKline Chair for Excellence in Teaching Middle School Science or Math
  • Patricia Berge of East Chapel Hill High is the Neil Pedersen Teachers First Chair for Excellence in Classroom Technology
  • Stefanie Hanne of Phillips Middle is the Mel and Zora Rashkis Chair for Excellence in Teaching Healthful Living and Physical Education
  • Laura Harris of Rashkis Elementary is the Sockwell Chair for Excellence in Teaching in the Primary Grades (Pre-K-2)
  • William Schrader of Chapel Hill High is the Bernadine Sullivan Chair for Excellence in Teaching High School English or Social Studies

Renewing Chair recipients were also honored. Mary Alicia Lyons of Morris Grove Elementary is the Mary U. Andrews Chair for Excellence in Teaching Literacy. Paula Dey of Carrboro High is the Elmo’s Diner Chair for Excellence in Teaching High School Math or Science. Mary Naylor of Northside Elementary is the Kim Hoke Chair for Excellence in Teaching Exceptional Children. Sheila Fleming of Scroggs Elementary is the PSF/PTSA Chair for Excellence in Teaching Cultural Arts. Susan Meyer of Culbreth Middle is the Zora Rashkis Teaching Chair for Excellence in Teaching World Language. Miles Chappell of Phillips Middle is the Zora Rashkis Teaching Chair for Excellence in Teaching Middle School Language Arts or Social Studies. Molly Kearns of Morris Grove Elementary is the Zora Rashkis Teaching Chair for Promising New Elementary School Teacher. Courtney Byrd of Chapel Hill High is the Burton Stuart Chair for Promising New Teachers of Secondary Math or Science.  Jasmine Johnson of Scroggs Elementary is the Upper Elementary Chair for Excellence in Teaching Innovation.

Fourteen educators were recognized for earning their National Board for Professional Teaching Standards. They join the more than 300 other CHCCS teachers who have earned their National Boards.  They are: Travis Adkison, Chapel Hill High; Jodi Carle, Rashkis Elementary; Jennifer Craven, Culbreth Middle; Molly Crawford, Carrboro High; Simone Dunphy, Chapel Hill High; Bradley Mitchell, Chapel Hill High; Emily Moorman, Carrboro Elementary; Sarah Morales, McDougle Middle; Ashley Quick-Hooker, Northside Elementary; Katelyn Robertson, Rashkis Elementary; Caroline Santana De Morais, Carrboro High; Madelon Smith, Seawell Elementary; Mary Kathryn Sutherland, Estes Hills Elementary; and Anna Webster, Carrboro Elementary.

Employees retiring from the district this year were recognized, if they chose to be.  Those honored are: Lynda Alexander, reading specialist, Phillips Middle; Willie Alston, custodian, Phillips Middle; Patsy Barbee, teacher assistant, Northside Elementary; Ronald Barbee, cafeteria manager, Smith Middle; Boyd Blackburn, math teacher, Smith Middle; Kathi Breweur, director of career and technical education, Instructional Services, Equity and Engagement Division, Lincoln Center; Janet Cherry, director of mental health and wellness, School Support and Wellness Division, Lincoln Center; Rhonda Coleman, first grade teacher, Seawell Elementary; Curtis Crews, business/technology teacher, Chapel Hill High; Sheila Crosland, cafeteria manager, Ephesus Elementary; Deborah Ellis, online learning facilitator, Chapel Hill High; Nick Fitzgerald, math teacher, East Chapel Hill High; Frances Irby Fries, fourth grade teacher, Glenwood Elementary; Carolyn Gilbert, director of student data and research, School Support and Wellness Division, Lincoln Center; Lionel Giordani, EC teacher assistant, Estes Hills Elementary; Laura Gondek, first grade teacher, Northside Elementary; Calvin Hooker, executive director of human resources operations, Human Resources Division, Lincoln Center; Lillian Loftin-Bell, first grade teacher, Northside Elementary; Marty Martindale, bus driver, Transportation Department; Sandra McAdoo, EC teacher, Chapel Hill High; Anissa McLendon, teacher assistant, Rashkis Elementary; Sam McPherson, plumber technician, Facilities and Maintenance Department, Lincoln Center; Theresa Menz, speech-language pathologist, Scroggs Elementary; Kimberly Newman, math teacher, Chapel Hill High; Hunter Pendleton, instructional technology facilitator, Estes Hills Elementary; Amy Doyle Porter, EC teacher assistant, McDougle Elementary; Frank Riggsbee, EC teacher assistant, Chapel Hill High; Latha Sabesan, Kindergarten teacher, Scroggs Elementary; John Tate, EC teacher assistant, Seawell Elementary; Angela Tobon, teacher assistant, FPG Bilingüe Elementary; Roger Valente, interventionist, Estes Hills Elementary; and Bernadine Williams, EC resource teacher, Chapel Hill High.

Employees were also honored for attaining milestones of service with CHCCS. Natalie Faircloth of McDougle Elementary was honored for 35 years of service.  Those honored for 30 years of service are: Toni De Marco, Morris Grove Elementary; Carla Gilchrist, Glenwood Elementary; Sharon Henley, Morris Grove Elementary; and Suzanne Stokes, Morris Grove Elementary.

Employees with 25 years of service included: Laila Bradford, IT Department, Lincoln Center; Marla Brown, McDougle Elementary; Catherine Chianese, Estes Hills Elementary; Jason Curtis, Chapel Hill High; Tracey Farrar, East Chapel Hill High; Sheila Fleming, Scroggs Elementary; Jerri Humphries, Chapel Hill High; Michael Irwin, Chapel Hill High; Kathleen Laufer, East Chapel Hill High; Barbara Link, Culbreth Middle; Issac Marsh, Chapel Hill High; Carole Peck, Seawell Elementary; Angela Redd, Estes Hills Elementary; Karen Sanders, East Chapel Hill High; and Roy Smith, Phillips Middle.

Employees with 20 years of service included: Sarawan Anbar, Estes Hills Elementary; Tricia Billy, Scroggs Elementary; Davis Boyle, Chapel Hill High; Sandra Brooks, Smith Middle; Gina Chapman, Smith Middle; Kristen Cho, Glenwood Elementary; Sharla Coleman, Estes Hill Elementary; Latoya Covington, Morris Grove Elementary; Susan Crammer, Chapel Hill High; Cheryl Cureton, Culbreth Middle;


Michelle Cassell is a seasoned reporter who has covered everything from crime to hurricanes and local politics to human interest over the course of 35 years. As managing editor, she hopes to encourage writers of a wide range of backgrounds and interests in TLR’s coverage of Southern Orange County news. 
This reporter can be reached at Info@TheLocalReporter.press

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