Friday , 19 January 2018
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Newton-Conover’s Leah Hayes Finishes as One of Top Eight Teachers in North Carolina


Newton-Conover’s Leah Hayes Finishes as One of Top Eight Teachers in NC
By Jamie Frye

leah 3In North Carolina, there are over 1.5 Million students, 96,000 Teachers, 115 School Districts, and Eight Regional Teachers of the Year: this year, Mrs. Leah Hayes finishes as one of the top eight teachers in State of North Carolina.

Let that sink in.

This 96,000 teacher figure is what Hayes, Kindergarten Teacher at South Newton Elementary School, was competing among in her nomination for the title of North Carolina Teacher of the Year.  After a year’s worth of interviews, travel, and video recording, not only has she remained an incredible teacher — against all competition, she has emerged at the end of her journey among 96,000 as one of eight elite teachers in the state.  

“It was such an honor to be in the company of so many amazing educators.  I have grown leah 1from this experience, and I am looking forward to being a positive voice for our Northwest Region in the year to come,” said Hayes.

Mastering Teacher Leadership

Dr. David Stegall, Superintendent of Newton-Conover City Schools, calls Hayes a “parent’s dream.”

“Leah Hayes is a parent’s dream for their child, every student’s treasure, and every co-worker’s greatest resource.  She is the consummate professional and truly embodies the leadership by example mantra.  I can’t imagine a more deserving selection who embodies all of the attributes that citizens of North Carolina desire Hayes_TOYfor the educators in our great state!,” said Stegall.

Parents of students in Hayes’ classroom share Stegall’s feelings.  Geoff Crosson, Discovery High School English Teacher and devoted South Newton Elementary parent, makes it practice to routinely share something that he is grateful for with his family, who also do the same, before they eat.  It should come as no surprise that Hayes is a recurring entry.

“At our dinner table we take turns saying something we’re grateful for that day before we eat.hayes 2  I can’t tell you how many times Leah was mentioned by one of us…I lost count,” said Crosson.

A teacher well-known for her innovative spirit, commitment to student growth, and unending dedication to kindness, it is no wonder that Hayes has been recognized as one of the elite eight teachers by the state of North Carolina for her instructional mastery of the teaching profession.

hayes 4“Leah Hayes is not only an exceptional teacher leader, she is a great teacher!  She exhibits a strong command of curriculum and pedagogy at a master teacher level.  She is an expert in teaching literacy and leadership skills while integrating technology and 21st Century Learning and citizenship skills to her young pupils.  Mrs. Hayes accomplishes all of this with a warm and friendly disposition.  Her students, parents, and colleagues alike hold her in high esteem with great affection,” said Dr. Scarlet Davis, Instructional Coach at South Newton Elementary School.

Modeling Love and Leadership for All

The impact that Hayes has had on our schools and region will undoubtedly continue andhayes 3 expand as she continues to serve her peers as a teacher-leader in multiple aspects — in the words of her colleague Candace Styers, “she is truly the glue that holds us together.”

“Countless times I have watched her take a step back so her peers can shine. I am honored to teach with such greatness. Whether you are 5 or 95, Leah’s words and actions will inspire you to be more, dream more, and love more.  We are so incredibly proud of her and all of her accomplishments,” said Styers.

hayes toyTammy Brown, former N-CCS Elementary School Principal and current Director of Elementary Education for Newton-Conover City Schools believes that the way Hayes models love and leadership for her students is one of the many reasons she is such an incredible teacher.

“Leah Hayes exemplifies what a teacher should be on a daily basis.   She teaches the students  how to become a quality citizen in life by consistently showering them with love while teaching them how to have compassion for others.   To the world she is just a teacher but to her students she is their hero. I am so proud TOYof all that she does in the classroom as well as for our community,” said Brown.

Parent Geoff Crosson’s further comment on Hayes’ impact on students is doubly meaningful, coming from an exemplary fellow educator as well as parent.

“Leah is a wonder.  She balances a three-ring-circus that is Kindergarten while masterfully communicating with parents…all while building meaningful relationships with her students,” said Crosson.

And, from the ideal teacher, who could ever ask for more?


Jamie Frye
Instructional Technology Facilitator and Public Information Officer
Newton-Conover City Schools

jamie_frye (at)


About James Frye

James Frye (@mrjamesfrye) serves as Instructional Technology Facilitator and Public Information Officer for Newton-Conover City Schools. Formerly, he was an English and Journalism Teacher at Newton-Conover High School and a Blended/Virtual English Teacher. He is a NC Teaching Fellow and studied education abroad at the Hochschule Magdeburg-Stendal in Germany. James holds a Post-Masters Certificate in Educational Leadership & Cultural Foundations from The University of North Carolina at Greensboro, a M.A. in Curriculum & Instruction with a Graduate Certificate in Educational Technology from Michigan State University, and a B.A. in English/Education from Lenoir-Rhyne University, where he serves as an Adjunct Professor. He is currently pursuing his Ph.D. in Educational Leadership, Policy, and Law with The University of Kentucky. In addition to modeling technological and leadership innovation and leading various professional learning, Jamie also serves statewide on the NC Digital Learning Initiative Advisory Board/Home Base Design Team, the NC Association of Supervision and Curriculum Development’s Board of Directors, the #NCed Leadership Team, and is co-founder of Edcamp WNC. He is a member of the NC Digital Leadership Coaches’ Network, and was named an international Emerging Leader by ASCD in 2015. He resides in Hickory with his wife and their baby girl.

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