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WHS educator selected as Northeast Region Teacher of the Year

Against the backdrop of a charity dodge ball tournament at Washington High School on Tuesday, WHS visual arts teacher Damon Walcott was recognized and honored as the 2018-19 Northeast Region Teacher of the Year.

Walcott was selected for the honor from a pool of 19 teachers of the year from school districts throughout northeastern North Carolina, and will go on to be one of eight candidates for North Carolina Teacher of the Year.

Walcott accepted the award flanked by family and administrators, as well as the 2017-18 regional and state Teachers of the Year.

“This is the greatest day of my teaching career,” Walcott said after the presentation. “In my mind, we’re bringing this home to Washington High School. They make me who I am and make me want to be a better teacher.”

Now in his fifth year at WHS, and his 15th year teaching, Walcott says that he has always felt like a teacher at heart. From helping his fellow students in high school to where he is today, he has constantly pursued opportunities to share his passion for the arts with others.

“Core subjects are extremely important,” Walcott said. “Courses like mine give me the opportunity to get to know students on a different level. Educationally speaking, I get to tap into a side they might not even realize is there. When they discover their creative side, it’s like a light bulb going off… I have a curriculum where there is no right or wrong.”

IN HIS ELEMENT: An artist at heart, Walcott is pictured here at a reception for a student earlier this year. (Matt Debnam/Daily News)

Prior to this award, Walcott was selected as both the WHS Teacher of the Year and the Beaufort County Schools Teacher of the Year.

“We’re extremely proud to have him here,” BCS interim superintendent Mark Doan said of Walcott. “He embodies everything we want in our educators — somebody cares about kids, cares about what he teaches, loves what he does and comes to work everyday to try to make the lives of our students better…they talk about him being a guidance counselor, a teacher and a mentor. If we could clone him and hire about 300 more just like him every time we had a vacancy, that would be awesome.”

While Doane spoke from the district level, WHS Principal Michael Swinson is someone who sees Walcott in action each day. From painting projects to add color to the school to hosting pottery sessions for students and their parents, the principal sees Walcott as an educator who goes above and beyond on a regular basis.

“It couldn’t be any body better,” WHS Principal Michael Swinson added. “He just does for the school…he does things all over the school. He does this stuff not for show or anything else, but just for the students. It couldn’t be any more well deserved.”

While both administrators spoke highly of Walcott’s dedication to his craft, perhaps the greatest compliments came from his students in their nominations. In their own words, they described him as funny, skilled, amazing, giving off good vibes, out of the box and understanding.

“He is the greatest example of a dad at school,” one student shared.

Moving forward, Walcott will be one of eight teachers throughout the state in the running for the title of North Carolina Teacher of the Year.