Return to Headlines

Guilford County Schools Names Teacher and Principal of the Year

Greensboro, N.C. Elementary educator Jhonatan Mesa received the highest honor for a Guilford County Schools (GCS) teacher. During the annual Celebration of

Excellence, outgoing GCS Teacher of the Year Chris Carroll, announced Mesa will

represent GCS as the 2023-2024 Teacher of the Year and the first Latino teacher to hold the honor in GCS.


Mesa is a first-grade dual language teacher at Hunter Elementary. Part of his teaching philosophy is facilitating knowledge children can apply and demonstrate in their daily lives. “We must graduate responsible citizens with basic life skills like prudence to make good choices; acceptance for diversity of opinion; and most importantly, specific resolution of conflicts,” Mesa said.


In addition to his $1,000 award as teacher of the year, Mesa also won Elementary Teacher of the Year. Elizabeth Hough from Guilford eLearning University Prep was named Middle School Teacher of the Year and STEM Early College at N.C. A&T’s Ronald Pait was named High School Teacher of the Year. Other finalists were:

  • Raquel Chavis, Simkins Elementary, and
  • Brent Davis, Mendenhall Middle.


The teacher of the year announcement was one of several announcements Thursday at Ragsdale High School as the district's top educators were recognized. The event and related prize money were sponsored by Guilford Education Alliance and Lenovo.


The evening's events also included announcing the GCS Principal of the Year. The honor and $1,000 in prize money went to Dr. Johnita Readus of Bluford STEM Academy. Dr. Readus also received the Elementary Principal of the Year award. Dr. Readus says being intentional has been her constant word and reflection tool. Rodney Boone of the Middle College at GTCC Greensboro received the distinction of Secondary Principal of the Year.


Rookie Teacher of the Year Kenyona Bethea said her biggest accomplishment has been creating a space in her classroom so that her students know they are supported and that their thoughts and feelings matter. The Smith High teacher describes her classroom as "a place for mathematical discovery and a welcoming oasis where it is safe to be imperfect and express oneself.” 


Anita Howard from Montlieu Academy of Technology, Kimberly Dempsey from Christine Greene Education Center, Florannete Frenia from Washington Montessori, Mikayla Stuart of Pleasant Garden Elementary and Kathryn Martin of Kernodle Middle were recognized as Rookie Teacher of the Year finalists.


GCS named its second ever Social Worker of the Year. Latasha Riddick from Penn-Griffin School for the Arts received the honor. In her application, Riddick said collaboration is her key to success. “The beauty of partnerships on the school level is that it allows individuals to come together, bringing their skill sets, knowledge and experience to the table for the betterment of the student.” Other finalists included Darrell Brown from Page High and Kimberly Simmons who serves the Middle College at UNCG.


Jennifer Dunlap will take a trophy back to Sternberger Elementary. She is the GCS Counselor of the Year.


In her application for Assistant Principal of the Year, winner Fanisha Fuller says she takes a hands-on approach to fostering student and staff success at Fairview Elementary. She says, “Leading with transparency and addressing issues or conflict in a timely manner has aided me in being able to sustain a positive culture where safety and well-being are prioritized.”


Guilford County Schools is grateful for veteran teachers who roll up their sleeves to guide and support their peers. This year, four educators including Kamille Dean from Andrews High; Kelly McDuffie from Allen Jay Prep; Miya Moore from Oak View Elementary and Shana Winstead from Montlieu Academy of Technology were named finalists for Mentor Teacher of the Year. Shana Winstead took home the top prize for this category.


In the 2023 Spirit Award competition, James B. Dudley High School’s pride shined, and they took home a trophy and bragging rights for secondary schools. Bessemer Elementary School received the Spirit Award for elementary schools. 



Watch GCSTV's Coverage of The Red Carpet Show and Celebration of Excellence!