Cynthia Watkins, a 22-year veteran who has taught kindergarten for the last three years at Spring Valley Elementary, is the 2013 Durham Public Schools Teacher of the Year.
“Mrs. Watkins exemplifies the qualities a principal looks for in a teacher: creativity, dedication, a love of learning, mastery of content, and a true commitment to excellence,” said Spring Valley Elementary principal Barbara Parker. “In her three years at Spring Valley, she has made a significant impact on student learning within her grade level as well as school-wide.”
“When I come in and I look at those faces each and every day, and see the potential there, that’s why I teach,” said Watkins. “It doesn’t matter what has happened to me on the way to work or before I come to work. When I walk through the doors, it’s exciting every day to see them learn and grow.”
Watkins is an active participant with the Durham Partnership for Children in a monthly forum called “Teacher Talks.” Kindergarten teachers, pre-K teachers and day care providers meet to discuss ways to enrich program standards to better prepare children and families for the transition to kindergarten. She has also piloted a summer tutoring program and volunteered in English as a Second Language camps to prevent summer learning loss.
She earned her bachelor’s degree and teacher certification at North Carolina Central University.
“Cynthia Watkins is an exemplary teacher and worthy of this honor,” said DPS Superintendent Eric J. Becoats. “Her peers’ nomination of her speaks to her impact at Spring Valley Elementary. She will represent all of Durham’s educators well.”
Watkins was among 53 school-level teachers of the year honored at the annual banquet sponsored by Triangle Orthopaedic Associates and North Carolina Specialty Hospital. She received at $1,000 award. Her fellow finalists—Vance Kite from City of Medicine Academy, Yvette Walker from Clement Early College High, Bryan Proffitt from Hillside High, and Brenda Lovely from Shepard Middle—were recognized with $500 awards as well.
Profiles of all five finalists are available at the Durham Public Schools website.
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