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Pugh honored as Bertie’s Teacher of the Year

AHOSKIE – It’s not everyday that an individual receives an award from a United States Congressman.

Fannie Pugh knows what that honor feels like.

Pugh, an Algebra II and Honors Algebra instructor at Bertie High School, was honored last week as the 2006-2007 Bertie Public Schools Teacher of the Year during a dinner banquet held at Catherine’s Restaurant. Among the numerous awards she received was one from Congressman G.K. Butterfield, North Carolina’s First District representative in Washington, D.C.

“My mother was a classroom teacher for 48 years so I know the importance of education,” said Butterfield who served as the banquet’s featured speaker. “I will continue to support education and will continue to push for more funds in our nation’s education budget.”

The Congressman was adamant over the fact that the nation’s growing deficit is hurting programs such as public education.

“We’re spending more than we’re taking in,” he noted. “We spend three times as much each year just paying the interest on our national deficit than we do for public education.”

Butterfield said America must change its focus, especially in regards to the ongoing war in Iraq.

“We’re spending $2 billion per week on a war in a country that poses no danger to our national security,” Butterfield said. “Meanwhile, 50 percent of the first graders enrolling yearly in our public schools will not graduate from high school. That’s unacceptable. We sure could use $2 billion per week to help train teachers and build better schools.”

In closing, the Congressman urged those in attendance to stay informed of the events shaping the world.

“Pay attention to what’s going on around you,” he said. “The world is changing every day. Be sure that your children understand those changes. It will help prepare them to enter the world as adults.”

Butterfield then made a special presentation to Pugh as well as to Fannie Williams of Colerain Elementary School who was named as Principal of the Year within the Bertie Public Schools system.

In accepting her award, Pugh began by thanking God for allowing her to experience this precious moment.

“To God be the glory,” Pugh remarked. “If we want our children to succeed, we must work day and night.”

In regards to her peers within the educational system, Pugh made reference to a scale that teachers could use to reach greater heights.

“Good teachers tell and great teachers show, but phenomenal teachers inspire,” she noted.

Dr. Nettie Collins-Hart, Superintendent of Bertie Public Schools, issued a big thank-you to all the teachers within the system.

“All too often you go unrecognized and underappreciated,” Dr. Collins-Hart said. “You do what you do, not for the money, but because educating our young people are in your hearts.”

In his final Teacher of the Year banquet, retiring Board of Education Chairman Seaton Fairless overcame a bit of emotion as he choked back the tears.

“Our kids are special to me,” Fairless said, “and our teachers are what make our kids so special. This is my last time working with you, but always know that I’m still here for you if you need anything.”

Fairless also addressed the recent problems encountered by the Bertie school system.

“We’ve had some groups trying to push us down, but we’ve struck together through this and become better for that effort,” he noted. “By sticking together we’ve been able to sit up and tell the world of the good things our teachers and our students are doing. I urge all of you to continue that good work.”

Fairless, joined by fellow School Board members Gloria Lee and Rickey Freeman along with Dr. Collins-Hart, then presented plaques to the Teachers of the Year from each Bertie public school. They were as follows:

Tundra Woolard n Aulander Elementary.

Fannie Pugh n Bertie High School.

Michael White n C.G. White Middle School.

Latonya Square n Colerain Elementary.

Kirk Taylor n Serendipity Alternative School.

Genia Canada n Southwestern Middle School.

Kimberly Brown n West Bertie Elementary.

Anita Heckstall n Windsor Elementary.

Speaking on behalf of the Selection Committee, Dr. Phyllis Broughton of Martin Community College said that teachers are very near and dear to her heart.

“Teachers offer inspiration and love for the children,” she said. “They are not there for the money, but to offer that inspiration and that love. The children in Bertie County schools are doing well because they are with teachers that want them to succeed.”

Others taking part in last week’s banquet included Constance Richardson who gave the opening remarks, School Board member Rev. Gary Cordon who blessed the meal, C.G. White Middle School Principal Wayne Mayo who offered a musical solo, and Carolyn Bunch, a 5th grade math and science teacher at Windsor Elementary who, as the 2005-06 Bertie Schools Teacher of the Year, served as the Mistress of Ceremonies.

Also taking part in the event was Pamela Chamblee who brought a powerful message that ended with a standing ovation. Chamblee spoke of the local teachers who are helping to build a brighter Bertie County.

Pugh will now move on to the regional level in the North Carolina Teacher of the Year competition.