GCS Announces Teacher and Principal of the Year

Balloons showered Jennifer Arberg, teacher at Kiser Middle, as Guilford County Schools (GCS) named her the 2011 Teacher of Year on Tuesday. Patrice Faison, principal at Oak Hill Elementary, joined Arberg in receiving the district's highest honors as she was named Principal of the Year.


Both educators won awards totaling $1,500 at the 11th annual Celebrating Excellence in Education event, which is sponsored by Businesses for Excellence in Education.


Teacher of the Year

Arberg, who has been a sixth-grade math teacher at Kiser for four years, loves to think of new ways to introduce her students to what they may consider "not-so-exciting topics." Singing and dancing is sometimes a part of her teaching because she believes students learn more when they are having fun.



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Kiser Middle teacher Jennifer Arberg is the GCS Teacher of the Year.

Since the days when her students were her stuffed animals as a child, Arberg has committed 15 years to education. She has taught internationally and holds degrees from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, the University of North Carolina at Charlotte and Appalachian State University. At Kiser, she started the MathCounts Club, giving her students additional opportunities to build their math problem-solving skills during competitions at other middle schools and on university campuses.


"I am constantly reminding my students that life is not a multiple choice test," Arberg said. "You are going to have to make hard decisions, and a lot of struggle will be required. Hopefully by providing a safe and fun atmosphere in my classroom, this will be a place where they will learn those skills and apply them in life to be complex thinkers and problem solvers."


Along with district-wide Teacher of the Year honors, Arberg was also named the Middle School Teacher of the Year. Other winners included Jefferson Elementary teacher Deanna Cunningham, the Elementary Teacher of the Year, and Northern High teacher Janiese McKenzie, the High School Teacher of the Year. Bruce "Kirby" Young from Brown Summit Middle and Kiron Spencer, a former teacher from Eastern High who is now teaching at The Middle College at Bennett, were the remaining finalists.

Principal of the Year
Faison, who is in her second year as principal at Oak Hill, believes successful leaders must listen first and act second. She has taken this approach to heart and led two schools toward dramatic, positive change. In 2007, she became the principal of The Academy at Smith and led the school from low performing to Honor School of Excellence status and a 100 percent graduation rate. In her first year at Oak Hill in 2010-11, the school made the largest gains in the district, raising its ABCs composite score by 19.4 percentage points to become one of this year's Most Improved Schools.



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Oak Hill Elementary Principal Patrice Faison is the GCS Principal of the Year.

Faison began her career with GCS as a third-grade teacher at Stokesdale Elementary in 1995. She received National Board Certification in 2000 and holds master's degrees in elementary education and school administration from North Carolina A&T State University. She is currently a member of the district's doctoral cohort at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.


At Oak Hill, Faison says she spent time meeting with parents and community members from the beginning. She also assembled a good team of teachers and has put her trust in them.


"Showing teachers their views and opinions are appreciated, valued and respected is critical to retaining a high-quality staff," she said. "During the year, I make every attempt to show staff how much I value their effort and dedication."

Faison was also named the Elementary Principal of the Year. Dudley High Principal Jesse Pratt was named the Secondary Principal of the Year. The remaining finalists were Keisha McMillan from Vandalia Elementary, Kevin Carr from Haynes-Inman Education Center and John Lawrence from Southern Elementary.

Most Improved Schools
GCS also recognized the 16 most improved schools in the district during Monday's event. Each school received an award of $9,625 to continue the academic progress of their students.

Nine elementary schools, three middle schools, three high schools and one middle college were selected for the awards based on their state ABCs performance composite gain from one year to the next. The performance composite is the percentage of students at or above proficiency on all tested subjects for a school.


Florence Elementary, Hunter Elementary, Irving Park Elementary, Joyner Elementary, Murphey Traditional Academy, Northern Elementary, Oak Hill Elementary, Stokesdale Elementary, Wiley Elementary



Guilford Middle, Southwest Middle, Welborn Academy of Science and Technology



Andrews High, Northern High, Ragsdale High


Early-Middle Colleges/Academies

The Middle College at N.C. A&T