Meet Sarah Johnson – NCVPS Teacher of the Year

Sarah JohnsonSarah Johnson has been named the 2019 NCVPS Teacher of the Year. NCVPS is extremely proud of her excellence in teaching as well as her leadership during her tenure with the organization. Please join us in congratulating her.

NCVPS selects one teacher from a group of three finalists to represent the school as its Teacher of the Year. All the finalists exemplified the highest degree in their commitment to student success, knowledge and skills as professional educators, and dedication to the NCVPS online program.

“NCVPS has much to be proud of and it is essential for us to recognize excellence in our teaching faculty,” says Dr. Eliz Colbert, NCVPS Executive Director. “We have had a Teacher of the Year program since 2008 in order to shine the light on the high caliber of instruction that occurs in our online classrooms every day. ”

Sarah taught English 2, 3, and 4 at her alma mater, Piedmont High School, in Union County. She has taught English 3 in our Occupational Course of Study (OCS) program for the past four years with NCVPS. She also serves as an OCS English instructional leader. Sarah was a North Carolina Teaching Fellow and received a BA in English and M.Ed in Language Literacy from UNC Wilmington.

“We are all so excited to have Sarah chosen for our NCVPS Teacher of the Year,” says Mary Keel, NCVPS Exceptional Children’s Director. “Sarah’s enthusiasm for teaching and the dedication shown to her students and partnering teachers are evident daily. She is a true asset to NCVPS.”

Sarah teaches in a blended learning environment in our OCS program where she is paired with a traditional classroom teacher at a North Carolina school. This partnership has helped Sarah customize and personalize her courses. “I have been partnered with some amazing EC co-teachers across the state, and I’ve realized that their knowledge of the students is invaluable when it comes to building a truly blended learning environment.”

The blended model doesn’t end there for Sarah. She’s taken the program to another level with site visits. She’s found the bond with students solid after her visits. “These visits have shown me that there can be a significant difference between what students know and can do versus what is submitted or logged as a score.”

Sarah has always had a passion for teaching. She homeschools her daughters, Madelyn and Lilyan. Before she was a teacher, Sarah was a camp counselor in high school. Before that, she was a tutor in middle school. “I embraced my teacher gene.”

Students have had the greatest impact on Sarah’s career. “Seeing them work hard, give it their all, and grow in their short time with me validates the path and passion I have for teaching. Walking alongside students as they work, and many times struggle, and being there, whether in the classroom or online, to see the lightbulb go off leaves a lasting effect, more than any of my students would ever know.”

Sarah believes teachers can develop strong relationships with students in virtual classrooms, which helps them grow as learners. The virtual classroom provides data that helps teachers leverage technology. “I have learned that an online teacher can do so much for students by customizing and personalizing the course through announcements, feedback, and support materials.”

“I’ve had the pleasure of working closely with Sarah for nearly two years in our OCS English department,” says Wendy Kraft, NCVPS Instructional Director. “Her powerful relationships with students and partnership teachers allows her to personalize teaching and learning each day. Sarah is also an integral part of our Instructional Leadership team, guiding NCVPS teacher growth through coaching and modeling of best practices.”

Outside of the classroom, Sarah loves traveling with her family. “As someone who loves to learn and grow, I have visited schools in Japan and Thailand.”

During the 2019-2020 school year, Sarah will become a member of the NCVPS Advisory Council and will be an ambassador for the organization at various events. NCVPS would like to congratulate all the teachers who were nominated by their peers for the award. We would like to recognize the other two finalists:

Shara Packman – Latin

Anna Gratale – OCS English

The NCVPS selection process for the Teacher of the Year program is divided into four phases beginning with the call for nominations. Next, nominees participate in a blind selection process that starts with answering a series of initial questions on instructional philosophy and student-centered instruction. The selection committee then narrows the field to three finalists who complete a video presentation and a portfolio, which showcases examples of their approach to teaching and their beliefs about instruction. The selection committee interviews the top three finalists before the final selection is made.

NC Virtual Public School is the nation’s second largest state-led virtual school with over 50,000 enrollments from all 115 school districts and many charter schools. NCVPS offers over 150 different courses as a supplement to the local high school course catalog and includes advanced placement, occupational course of study, electives, traditional, honors, intervention, co-teaching, and flex learning courses. Certified North Carolina instructors teach all NCVPS courses and provide strategies for active student engagement through a variety of technology tools. Teachers are required to make personal contact with students and parents regularly to maximize the student-teacher relationship. Courses are free to students who enroll through their local North Carolina school. NCVPS is available to home school and private school students for a small fee. By virtue of online course delivery, students now have access to rigorous courses and high-quality teachers regardless of ZIP code.