Staff photo by Cole Dittmer
Wrightsville Beach School first grade teacher Meaghan Thomas is in her third year at the school and was named Teacher of the Year for the 2014-15 school year.
Although she grew up in Michigan, attending Wrightsville Beach School was always a dream Meaghan Thomas renewed every summer when her family would vacation in Wrightsville Beach.
Now, years later, Thomas is the school’s Teacher of the Year for the 2014-15 school year.
“It is so exciting to be at Wrightsville Beach School, because I would always drive past it and see the sign for the school and wish that I could go to school here,” Thomas said on Monday, Feb. 25. “When I finally got the call about transferring here, I was just excited to be finally making that move.”
Thomas is now in her third year teaching first grade at WBS and in her eighth year teaching overall. Prior to WBS, Thomas taught seventh and eighth grades at Williston Middle School where she picked up her first Teacher of the Year award. Although she said teaching middle school was good for her, teaching elementary-aged students has always been her passion.
“I like to teach the younger students, because I just feel like if you get them when they are young you can do so much more with them and really set the tone with school,” she said. “When you teach the young kids, they love school and everything is exciting. We are learning about snails right now and they would look at them the whole day.”
In looking for an elementary school to move to after Williston, Thomas said the level of parent involvement at WBS was one of the factors that stood out to her.
“Having the parent/teacher involvement and communication is important,” Thomas said. “They are committed to their child’s education and it makes me work harder to give their kids what they deserve.”
In the eight years she has taught in North Carolina, Thomas said she thinks some aspects of the state’s public education system have changed for the better.
“I know a lot of people are opposed to the Common Core but I think that is a good change that has allowed us to have the same standards nationally and put [North Carolina] in the playing field with other states,” she said. “I think it is better than when I started eight years ago with more of a commitment to teaching the standards and to involve best practices and research-based methods in education.”
Being named Teacher of the Year at WBS means Thomas will be in the running for New Hanover County Teacher of the Year, and at the regional and state levels if she advances. However, her students are what consume the majority of her focus.
“You really have to be dedicated to it and know that this is not a job that ends at 3:30 p.m.,” she said. “It is not like I grew up wanting to be a teacher but now that I live it every day I love it and can’t imagine doing anything else.”