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Edneyville third-grade teacher honored as top rookie

EDNEYVILLE — Lauren Schneider, a dedicated third-grade teacher at Edneyville Elementary School, has been selected as the Henderson County Public Schools Beginning Teacher of the Year for 2023-2024.

In a heartwarming surprise, Schneider’s third-grade class, along with schools Superintendent Mark R. Garrett and the district’s leadership team gathered in the school library on Tuesday to celebrate her well-deserved achievement. The celebration was filled with joy, including beautiful sunflowers grown by students at Edneyville and a delicious cake that Schneider shared with her class and guests.

“We are proud to honor Ms. Schneider as the 2023-2024 Beginning Teacher of the Year. She is a standout educator who adds great value in all areas,” Garrett said. “Her focus on students and collaborative nature place her well beyond her years of experience. We are fortunate to have her at Edneyville and on the HCPS team.”

Schneider’s journey in education began four years ago when she joined HCPS as a substitute teacher. This is her second year at Edneyville, where she has been making a significant impact on her students’ lives in the third grade. Prior to her career in education, Schneider worked in clinical research until the birth of her two children, when she took a break to dedicate her time with them.

The North Carolina Prudential “Beginning Teacher of the Year” award was developed in 2019 by the NC Center for the Advancement of Teaching to honor beginning teachers and to retain educators who show promise as excellent education leaders in North Carolina public schools.

Principals from Henderson County’s 23 schools nominate beginning teachers and the curriculum and instruction staff select the overall district winner, along with input from other stakeholders with knowledge of the various nominees’ work performance.

“We are excited that Ms. Schneider has received such a tremendous honor and her hard work and growth as a teacher is being recognized," Edneyville principal Andrew VunCannon said. "She is a tremendous asset to Edneyville Elementary, her students, and the school's culture. Beginning teachers like Ms. Schneider are evidence that the future of HCPS is very bright.”

In addition to her exceptional teaching abilities, Schneider is known for being hard working, reflective and collaborative. She has worked well within her Professional Learning Community and has been a valuable resource to the third-grade team as they incorporated the new Ready Math curriculum.

“I am extremely humbled and grateful for the recognition," she said. "I would not be the teacher I am without the encouragement and collaboration that I have experienced working with many HCPS teachers, even during my time as a substitute teacher. I am so proud to work at Edneyville alongside such hardworking teammates and the encouraging administrative team, Mr. VunCannon and Ms. Rudi.”

Regional finalists will attend a celebration and week of Teacher Leadership at NCCAT’s Cullowhee campus Feb. 12-16 during which the Beginning Teacher of the Year Selection Committee will review portfolios and interview the 27 finalists. The NCCAT Beginning Teacher of the Year winner will be announced at a celebration event on Feb. 15.
The NCCAT Beginning Teacher of the Year receives a $5,000 cash prize, participation in a GoGlobal NC trip and instructional supply funds for the teacher's school. The runner-up receives a $2,000 cash prize. All finalists receive travel expenses to participate in NCCAT professional development and leadership development.