Leah Carper, an English teacher from Western Guilford High School, has been recently named the 2023 North Carolina Teacher of the Year. Carper has been teaching since 2006 and holds a degree in English education from UNC-Greensboro and a master’s degree in educational leadership from Queens University of Charlotte.
In her acceptance speech, Carper emphasized the importance of character education in schools, saying, “They’re students of humanity, and they’re learning how to be good people, and they’re learning that in our classrooms every day.” She hopes to see more focus on character development for all students, regardless of their differences.
The state top educator’s commitment to her students and innovative teaching methods have won her numerous accolades, including the 2021 Guilford County Schools Teacher of the Year and the 2021 Piedmont Triad Regional Teacher of the Year. She believes in a student-centered approach to teaching, tailoring her methods to what works best for each student. As she stated in her teacher of the year submission, “When it comes to teaching, I’m going to do what works for my students.”
During her speech, Carper recalled the teachers who had influenced her and had taught her about acceptance and appreciation for different cultures and countries. She shared a touching story about a third-grade teacher who had bought her new shoelaces because she did not have any. Carper believes that these small acts of kindness cannot be measured on a standardized test but are essential in creating a positive and welcoming classroom environment.
State Superintendent of Public Instruction Catherine Truitt also addressed the regional teachers of the year, acknowledging the challenges they have faced during the COVID-19 pandemic. “You were on the front lines of the pandemic in a way that very few were, and I include myself in that group,” she said.
As the 2023 North Carolina Teacher of the Year, Carper will serve as an ambassador for teachers and will advise the State Board of Education for the next two years. She will also attend a seminar at the NC Center for the Advancement of Teaching, receive a mobile device from Lenovo valued at approximately $1,600, an engraved vase, a cash award of $7,500, a trip to the National Teacher of the Year Conference and International Space Camp, a prize pack and the opportunity to be honored during a football game from NC State Athletics, support from No Kid Hungry NC, a cash award of $1,000 from Bojangles, and the opportunity to travel abroad through an endowment sponsored by Go Global NC.
Leah Carper’s dedication to her students and innovative teaching methods have earned her the recognition of being the 2023 North Carolina Teacher of the Year. She is an inspiration to both her students and fellow teachers, and her focus on character education and student-centered learning will undoubtedly make a positive impact on education in North Carolina.