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HMS exceptional children's teacher is rookie of the year

From left, Bernie Sochia, Chief Finance Officer, Carl Taylor, Chief Administrative Officer, Assistant Superintendent Shannon Marlowe, Breeana Clayton, Superintendent Mark Garrett and Assistant Superintendent Scott Rhodes.

Breeana Clayton, an Exceptional Children’s teacher at Hendersonville Middle School, was honored Friday as Henderson County's Beginning Teacher of the Year for 2022-2023.

Schools Superintendent Mark R. Garrett and other district administrators surprised Clayton while she was teaching Friday morning.

Clayton is a proud product of Henderson County public schools. A graduate of East Henderson High School, she received her Bachelors of Arts in Communication from North Carolina State University.

The North Carolina Prudential “Beginning Teacher of the Year” award was developed in 2019 by the NC Center for the Advancement of Teaching, (NCCAT) 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.

“Ms. Clayton has made a significant impact on our students, school and her colleagues in her first year," Hendersonville Middle School Principal Joni Allison said. "As an EC teacher, she builds trust with families and advocates for her students. She is solutions-oriented and always works to the best interest of the student.”

Not only has Clayton adjusted well to teaching, but she also works with two mentor programs, coaches a school sport and teaches summer school. “Ms. Clayton was so impactful as our cheerleading coach in her first year she had over 50 girls try out for 15 spots on our cheerleading teams,” Allison said.

Clayton beamed with pride when speaking about her cheerleaders.

“Hendersonville Middle School really is the best place to be," Clayton said. "I love being the cheerleading coach and staying spirited for our Bearcat family. Can’t hide that Bearcat pride!”

The two mentorship programs that Clayton is a part of have big impacts on students. The first program is Becoming Bearcats where 8th graders mentor a small group of 6th graders throughout the year. The second program is The Marable Mentorship Program. This program was co-created by Breeana Clayton, Katy Gash, Bertha Collins, Ronnie Pepper, and Terry Young. “Named after the 9th Avenue School Principal John Marable, this is a mentorship program for young men of color in which we explore the pillars of character, motivation, leadership, and legacy. These young men work with our two mentors, Ronnie and Terry, for 8 weeks each semester and culminate with a visit to an HBCU (Historically Black College/University) at the end of the school year” explained Clayton.

Regional finalists will attend a celebration and week of Teacher Leadership at NCCAT’s Cullowhee campus March 6-10, during which time the NCCAT BTOY Selection Committee will review portfolios and interview the 27 finalists. The NCCAT Beginning Teacher of the Year winner will be announced at a celebration on March 9, 2023. 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 and all finalists receive travel expenses to participate in NCCAT professional development and leadership development.