Moore County 2nd-grade teacher, Durham native wins state’s top honor

Local News

CARY, N.C. (WNCN) – Mariah Morris, a Durham native and second-grade teacher at West Pine Elementary School in Pinehurst, was named the 2019 Burroughs Wellcome Fund North Carolina Teacher of the Year. The award was given during a luncheon Friday in Cary, according to a news release.

She was selected from a field of nine finalists from North Carolina’s eight districts and charter schools.

Morris has been teaching for 13 years and is in her third year at West Pine Elementary. She has helped lead district efforts to “emphasize STEM learning across all grades,” the release said.

“Too many of our students feel disengaged with their education,” Morris wrote in her Teacher of the Year submission. “Many of our current pedagogical practices feel out of touch with the recent boom in technological advancement. Student-led, problem-based learning should be at the forefront on our classroom instruction.”

State Superintendent Mark Johnston said Morris represents forward-thinking teachers.

“Mariah’s second graders are fortunate to have her as their teacher,” Johnson said in the release. “And North Carolina is fortunate to have her in the classroom, helping to inspire and shape a future generation of North Carolinians to be ready to meet the challenges of the 21st century.”

Morris said she wanted to be a teacher from an early age. She grew up in what she described as a blue-collar family in Durham. She was a Teaching Fellow at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill. She’s previously taught in Durham, Wake, and Guilford counties.

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