What’s Right with Our Schools: ‘Teacher of the Year’

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A teacher out of Alamance County was chosen as "Teacher of the Year" for the entire state of North Carolina.

Tyronna Hooker, a language arts teacher at Graham Middle School, was chosen as teacher of the year for both Alamance County and the entire state.

As FOX8's Cindy Farmer helped us to discover in this latest edition of What's Right with Our Schools, Hooker did not arrive at her profession easily.

"Actually my degree is in criminal justice.  I was a corrections officer, an adult probation and parole officer, and a child protective service investigator," Hooker said.

It was her experience in working with offenders and her decision to become a foster parent that led her on a journey back to the classroom.

"I decided to make a difference.  I entered the world of education in hopes of rewriting some endings or creating some new beginnings," Hooker said.

Many of her at-risk students struggle with their school work -- a feeling she knows all too well.

"Growing up I had some struggles in the classroom.  I had teenage parents.  They weren't prepared to raise me and I eventually was adopted by my grandmother who had a 10th-grade education and was a textile worker, but she knew the value of an education," Hooker said.

If her students begin to doubt their abilities, she tells them about the bumble bee.

"A bumblebee can't fly.  Nothing scientifically explains how it takes flight," she said.  "Then I'll say, 'Shhh, don't tell him! He doesn't know because every day he achieves the impossible.'  I want them to believe that anything is possible.

"I don't want them to go easily into defeat.  I want them to have a plan that reaches beyond their imagination," she continued.

Hooker will begin traveling the state to inspire teachers and students alike as the official teacher of the year.

"If I had to tell each one of my students to do something, I would tell them to dream big," she said.  "Dream big."

Hooker will also be eligible to compete for the "National Teacher of the Year" title in the fall.