Alexander County Schools is celebrating the year’s best by naming Melissa Sharpe as the 2023 Teacher of the Year. Sharpe teaches math at Alexander Early College and is starting her eighth year with the district. Sharpe was taken by surprise at the district’s opening session when her name was called.
“It was pretty great. I don’t typically like recognition, so I was a little uncomfortable, but it was great. It was wonderful. I felt really proud of the students that did the video and of myself,” says Sharpe.
The selection committee chose Sharpe, in part, because of her founding the student ambassador program at the Early College.
“We are working really hard to develop positive relationships with other schools in our county to make sure that other schools know what the Early College is really like. And we are actually going to be going into the middle schools more than we did last year, at lunches and providing information to students if they have questions about our school. We also are attending faculty meetings at the middle schools to let the faculty know what our school is all about. And we are working really hard to work closer with the high school and all of the programs and how we can mesh together in a very positive way,” says Sharpe.
In Principal Mary Brown’s recommendation for the district Teacher of the Year prize, she credited Sharpe building relationships with students.
“Mrs. Sharpe connects with her students on a personal level. She cares about them, and they work hard for her because they do not want to disappoint her. She is a model for the staff on how to make a positive impact on students both academically and personally. Relationships are the key to her success. She is an outstanding teacher and an amazing human being,” bragged Brown.
The students support the claim.
“She takes students and loves them as her kids,” says 11th-grader Dalton Watts.
Ava Smith, says Sharpe, “actually made me like math for the first time. I feel like we can all just talk to her about anything. And she’s like my second mom.”
Students also noted how hard working Sharpe is. Their opinions match a recent Phi Delta Kappa survey of how the public feels about education. Nearly two-thirds of those surveyed felt teachers are undervalued, and 58% of those surveyed said teachers are overworked.
“I do not feel undervalued locally here. I feel very valued. Everybody at my school feels very valued. My friends that are teachers all feel very valued from our local school system. It’s more from the way top down with pay and things like that,” says Sharpe.
She adds that with her years of experience she’s learned to plan.
“I don’t feel overworked. I think it’s about balance and expectations from your principal and your school system. I definitely don’t feel overworked, but I’m also in year 23 and have done this for a very, very long time and know boundaries, and I understand what needs to be done and how to do it efficiently,” explains Sharpe.
The planning must work. According to Brown, Sharpe is known for getting results.
Mrs. Sharpe, “understands how students learn and she does everything in her power to make sure that they do. Her students always score very well on the Math 1 and Math 3 EOCs.”
Sharpe will go on to represent the district at the regional level by completing a portfolio. If she’s chosen, she would move on to the state level. The state competition judges teachers based on leadership, diversity, and quality.
Other nominees for Alexander County Schools Teacher of the Year include: Patrick Watkins, ACHS; Suzanne Goble, AVA; Sara Howell, BES; Marnie Wills, EES/BES; Mark Ford, EAMS; Amber Davis, HES; Deborah Mitchell, TES; Tasha Sweet, SLES; Kirsten Barnes, SPES; Keaton LeBlanc, WES; and Matt Cochran, WAMS.
Collectively, these teachers have 132 years of experience with Alexander County Schools.