Onslow Educator Wins Teacher of the Year

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NCDPI News Release

For immediate release

April 6, 2017



Onslow County Kindergarten Teacher Wins Top Honors


Lisa Godwin

Lisa Godwin, an Onslow County kindergarten teacher, was named the 2017 Burroughs Wellcome Fund North Carolina Teacher of the Year during an awards luncheon today in Cary. Godwin was selected from a field of nine finalists representing the state’s eight education districts and charter schools.


Godwin is now in her third year teaching at Dixon Elementary School in Holly Ridge, where she returned to the classroom in 2014 after working as an assistant principal for four and a half years in Onslow and Lee county schools.


State Superintendent Mark Johnson, who announced this year’s winner, said Godwin represents the very best talent in North Carolina’s schools, measuring her own success by that of her students – regardless of where they start – and seeing public education as the nation’s open door to opportunity and life success.


“Every day, Lisa gives her students the support and encouragement that lay an essential foundation for them to keep learning across the grades and beyond,” Johnson said. “She reaches out to their parents to build trust and reinforce learning in the home, and she leads her colleagues with respect and by example.”


As 2017 Teacher of the Year, Godwin succeeds last year’s recipient, Bobbie Cavnar, an English and journalism teacher at South Point High School in Gaston County. The teacher of the year is chosen by a committee of professional educators as well business and community leaders. The state selection committee members are chosen based on their active public record in support of education.


John Burris, president of the Burroughs Wellcome Fund, said the foundation is proud to support an award that recognizes an education professional who has risen to the top of the field by a passionate commitment to his or her students.


“The recipient of this award serves as a role model to students and peers in this critical professional field," Burris said.


Godwin finished high school thinking she wanted to be a nurse, and attended Sandhills Community College in pursuit of that goal. But it wasn’t until her twin sons were starting school several years later that she decided on teaching instead, taking a job in 1997 as a teacher assistant at Tramway Year Round Elementary School in Sanford. She later earned her teaching degree from St. Andrews Presbyterian College in Laurinburg and taught kindergarten for three years at Deep River Elementary School in Sanford.


After earning a master’s degree in school administration from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 2009, she served as assistant principal at J. Glenn Edwards Elementary School in Sanford and Meadow View Elementary School in Jacksonville.


She explained in her nomination submission that she chose to return to teaching from administration because she believed she could have a greater impact in the classroom.


“I truly missed the daily, positive interaction with my own classroom of students,” she wrote, “and knew that I could be a greater change agent from within.”


Godwin is a mentor teacher at Dixon Elementary, supporting new teachers, and serves on a number of Onslow County Schools groups, including the Superintendent’s Advisory Committee, the Every Student Succeeds Act Committee and the district’s Quality Council. She’s an active member of the Surf City Baptist Church and is involved with a number of community organizations and charitable events, some sponsored by the surf shop that she and her husband own in Surf City.


As with other regional finalists, Godwin was first recognized this school year as teacher of the year at her school and district.


As Burroughs Wellcome Fund North Carolina Teacher of the Year, Godwin will spend the next school year traveling the state as an ambassador for the teaching profession. She will receive the use during the year of a state vehicle, leased from Flow Automotive, LLC, the opportunity to attend a seminar at the NC Center for the Advancement of Teaching (NCCAT), a mobile device from Lenovo valued at approximately $1,600, an engraved vase, a one-time cash award of $7,500, a trip to the National Teacher of the Year Conference and International Space Camp, and the opportunity to travel abroad through an endowment sponsored by Go Global NC.


Godwin also will serve as an advisor to the State Board of Education for two years and as a board member for the NC Public School Forum for one year. In addition, the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction will sponsor her enrollment and completion of the Public School Forum’s Education Policy Fellowship Program.


The other regional finalists were:

  • Northeast: Amy Parker, Hertford Grammar (Perquimans County Schools);
  • North Central: Miles Macleod, Heritage High (Wake County Schools);
  • Sandhills: Juandalynn Ray, Sampson Middle (Clinton City Schools);
  • Piedmont-Triad: Adam Reeder, Asheboro High (Asheboro City Schools);
  • Southwest: Anthony Johnson, Jr., Isenberg Elementary (Rowan-Salisbury Schools);
  • Northwest: Carrie Franklin, Glenwood Elementary (McDowell County Schools);
  • Western: Leslie Schoof, Madison Early College High (Madison County Schools); and
  • Charter Schools: Deborah Brown, Research Triangle High (Research Triangle Park).

North Carolina has recognized outstanding teachers through its Teacher of the Year program since 1970. For more information on North Carolina’s Teacher of the Year recognition program, visit the program’s website. You also can follow the North Carolina Teacher of the Year finalists on Twitter at #NCTOYPOY.