BEST OF THE BEST: School system recognizes outstanding teachers, principals

Published 6:49 pm Friday, August 31, 2018

Day in and day out, teachers and principals dedicate their lives to one of the most noble of pursuits — educating the next generation and preparing young people to face the world.

Recognizing Beaufort County’s best and the brightest in the field of education, Beaufort County Schools held its annual teacher of the year banquet on Thursday evening, recognizing a group of men and women who have made an impact on their schools and their students.

From each of the county’s 14 public schools, those who earned title teacher of the year at their respective schools were recognized, alongside principals bestowed with that same nomination.

Following a steak dinner at the Beaufort County Ed. Tech Center, Interim Superintendent Mark Doane recognized the evening’s honorees before announcing the 2018 BCS Teacher of the Year, who will go on to represent the school system at the state level.


Now in his 14th year of teaching, Damon Walcott is an art teacher at Washington High School. He obtained his undergraduate degree from Illinois State University in 1997 and his master’s degree from East Carolina University in 2004.

TEACHER OF THE YEAR: BCS Teacher of the Year Damon Walcott receives recognition from Beaufort County Board of Education Vice Chair Eltha Booth. (Matt Debnam/Daily News)

Of Walcott, WHS Principal Mike Swinson said, “Mr. Walcott is a cornerstone at Washington High School and is a proactive teacher who gives back more to our academic structure than any other faculty member.”

Paula Sherman, a Kindergarten teacher at Northeast Elementary School, was runner up for the title. In her 27th year as a teacher, Sherman obtained her undergraduate degree from ECU in 1992, followed by her master’s in school administration and curriculum instruction in 2018.

TOP TEACHERS: BCS Teacher of the Year Damon Walcott and runner up Paula Sherman are pictured here with Interim BCS Superintendent Mark Doane. (Matt Debnam/Daily News)

NES principal Mark Clinkscales said of Sherman, “Paula Sherman is the epitome of what you would expect and want out of a teacher. Her hard work, dedication and reputation are easily seen and appreciated by all who come in contact with her. She handles her Kindergarten students in a manner that prepares them for their next step in life.”

Nominees for Teacher of the Year included:

Mike Proctor — Northside High School

Jennifer Williams — Eastern Elementary School

Cougar Caroon — Early College High School

Stephen Menninger — Beaufort County Ed. Tech Center

Blake Bullock — Bath Elementary School

Jim Wood — Chocowinity Middle School

Emily Houston — Chocowinity Primary School

Melissa McGahey — John Cotton Tayloe Elementary School

Emily Bland — John Small Elementary School

Hillary Ridenour — P.S. Jones Middle School

Laurie Lietz — Southside High School

Chanaay Moore — S.W. Snowden Elementary School

2018 BCS PRINCIPAL OF THE YEAR — Kelly Makepeace

Kelly Makepeace joined Beaufort County Schools in 2013 as an assistant principal at P.S. Jones Middle School, taking the reins at John Small Elementary in 2016. She earned her undergraduate degree from ECU in 2006 and her master’s degree in 2013.

PRINCIPAL OF THE YEAR: BCS Principal of the Year Kelly Makepeace receives recognition from Beaufort County Board of Education Chairman Mac Hodges. (Matt Debnam/Daily News)

Of Makepeace, JSS staff said, “Kelly Makepeace leads John Small with both her head and her heart. She always puts the students first. She knows all of their names and goes out of her way to make sure they feel loved and encouraged. She also goes to great lengths to see to their physical and emotional wellbeing, whether they’ve been displaced by flood or fire, of if their family lives are unstable. She gets just as excited about teaching as those of us in the classroom.”

Runner up for principal of the year was Kim Gibbs, principal at Chocowinity Middle School, where she has led since 2015. She holds undergraduate and master’s degrees from ECU.

TOP PRINCIPALS: BCS Principal of the Year Kelly Makepeace and runner up Kim Gibbs are pictured here with Interim BCS Superintendent Mark Doane. (Matt Debnam/Daily News)

Staff members spoke highly of her, saying, “She is truly the most professional and dedicated principal that I have ever worked with. In the three years that she has been principal here at CMS, I have seen her turn around staff moral, as well as student performance on testing. She is truly a dedicated and valuable asset to BCS and CMS.”

Nominees for Principal of the Year included:

Tracey Nixon — P.S. Jones Middle School

Mike Swinson — Washington High School

Charles Clark — Northside High School

Mark Clinkscales — Northeast Elementary School

SCHOOL LEADERS: Nominees for 2018 Principal of the Year included Kim Gibbs, Tracey Nixon, Kelly Makepeace, Mike Swinson, Charles Clark and Mark Clinkscales. (Matt Debnam/Daily News)