King’s Fork teacher recognized

Published 1:36 am Saturday, April 8, 2017

Andrae Riddick, a King’s Fork High School special education teacher, didn’t always want to teach.

He earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology from North Carolina A&T State University to pursue a career in forensic psychology, before getting a Master of Science at Old Dominion University in special education.

He said his plan changed when he mentored high school students in his undergraduate years.

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“Many of the teachers at the schools I mentored stated that I was really good at it, and that I should really think about becoming a teacher,” he said.

Now in his fourth year of teaching, Riddick has been selected as Suffolk Public Schools’ 2017 City-Wide Teacher of the Year. The award is for applicants that have been nominated as teacher of the year by their respective schools.

Emma Neave of John F. Kennedy Middle School was named Middle School Teacher of the Year, along with Creekside Elementary School’s Natalie Street for Elementary School Teacher of the Year and Sabrina Hayes of John Yeates Middle School for Rookie Teacher of the Year.

Riddick said he didn’t expect to win, considering it’s only his fourth year, and every teacher at the school goes above and beyond for the students.

“That day I didn’t know how to feel, to see everyone announce me as the winner,” he said. “I just lost the words.”

He co-teaches geometry for more than 60 students per day. Approximately a third of them are special education students under the inclusion model, in which they are taught alongside general education students.

For Riddick, there’s no difference between them, other than the particular instruction they need to learn.

“The stigma of special education makes things seem different, but it’s really not,” he said.

King’s Fork Principal Dr. Ronald Leigh said in a press release that Riddick’s role as the School Service Learning coordinator is where he’s done his best work. Service Learning integrates student academics with community service.

Riddick revived the “K9 Connection” program this year, allowing students to volunteer weekly at Elephant’s Fork Elementary and Hillpoint Elementary schools as mentors and role models.

This helps the students build job skills, such as one student that said she was interested in teaching, according to Riddick.

“She was able to get hands-on experience in her chosen career,” he said.

Assistant Principal Kimberly Warholak said in a press release that Riddick’s commitment to his students is demonstrated when he works one-on-one with students struggling academically, or who just need someone to listen.

He said all it takes is one caring adult to show a student that he or she can be successful in life.

“If you’re able to reach just one a day, you know you’re doing something right,” he said.