December 2, 2015
Evan Ferguson is honored as CHSSCS Teacher of the Year

Dare County Schools

Career and technical education teacher Evan Ferguson is Cape Hatteras Secondary School of Coastal Studies 2015-2016 Teacher of the Year.  She’s in her sixth year at CHSSCS.  She earned her Magna Cum Laude, Honors College bachelor's degree in communications, with a concentration in public relations from East Carolina University, and gained her lateral entry licensure from ECU in marketing and business education and family and consumer sciences, which she has taught to students in grades 9-12 at CHSSCS since 2010. She began teaching Foods last year.

Ferguson has been honored with the N.C. DECA Kenneth W. Smith Award for Professional Dedication. She is the recipient of numerous grants, including multiple Bright Ideas and Hatteras Island Youth Foundation awards, and has presented at several conferences, and was tapped for the N.C. Department of Public Instruction Hospitality and Tourism curriculum writing team.

“I come from a family of teachers,” says Ferguson, “but I never aspired to become one. In fact, when I was younger, I thought, who would ever want to go back to work at school after they graduated, right? Here I am 15 years later, eating those words because here I am!

“The fact that I am a business person with real world experience has helped me to excel at teaching my subjects. I truly feel that if you are to teach business, marketing, restaurant management and the like, that you should have job experience in those areas. Students see me as a credible source as I am teaching from real life experience, not just from what I’ve read in a book.

“I think of teaching not as a job, but as a calling. I feel a sense of pride and accomplishment from building up my program and making it better.”

One initiative that Ferguson is behind is receiving attention - the Conetoe Food and Cultural Exchange with the Conetoe Family Life Center in Conetoe, N.C. Ferguson has developed a collaboration with the Reverend Richard Joyner of the Conetoe Family Life Center. Ferguson’s students and students from Edgecomb County Schools have visited back and forth to work on creating a sustainable community wellness initiative in the two areas. Ferguson has also worked with the organizers of the Day at the Docks, Resourceful Communities, and Saltwater Connections to incorporate local seafood into the curriculum. She is also the Hatteras Island representative for the Outer Banks Local Foods Council.

“Moving from marketing to focus more on foods and nutrition has been the best thing to happen to my career, and I think it shows," reflects Ferguson. "Our focus is on sustainability, health, and green practices -- all things in the forefront of our world right now. Students feel my energy and love of what I am doing, so they engage.

“Through social media, I showcase the successes of our new program and the community has helped with any and everything I have asked of them.  I see the Foods program as a community initiative and it’s been a great lesson to see how community members can work together to make positive things happen.

“I am well aware that when students walk into my room they may be carrying burdens beyond our comprehension. It’s important for me to stay aware of that and to provide a strict, yet empathetic environment where students can learn at their own pace and feel supported to experiment and make mistakes. I want students to be free to fail and then try again with support and structure.

“In my 17 years as a student, I can remember only five teachers who I can say were truly passionate, positive and inspiring. I want to be one of those standout teachers for my students," says Ferguson. "I want them to smile when they see me and be excited when they come to class. I want them to learn, thrive, and become better human beings. I want the positive energy of my classroom to be contagious, and see my students light up and open up to possibilities.”

“As a career and technical education teacher, I find that equipping students with real life skills is essential. As costs of universities continue to rise and jobs are harder to find, it is important that students leave school with skills that they can transfer directly to the workplace. Life and trade skills such as finances, cooking, nutrition, computer and technology, carpentry, and agriculture will assist students as they leave high school with the essentials to help them transition into the workplace. When these skills are introduced across the curriculum and with real-world applications, students are reinforcing reading, writing, math and science as well as learning vocational skills.

“Teaching is not about me, it’s about what I can impart on those who walk in my classroom. Being a great teacher is about showing students that no matter how different we are, we are alike. That we must have empathy for others and understand that diversity makes this country great. The more the community is involved in our classrooms, the more these lessons ring true.

“I want each student to leave me being informed and empowered to make a difference in their life and the world.”

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