DOBSON — Collaboration and support is a common theme to Surry County School’s Teacher of the Year (TOY) and Principal of the Year (POY). Surry Central’s Dena Cave captured TOY honors and Copeland Elementary Principal Sandra Scott was named POY.
The honor comes in Cave’s sixth year of teaching and marks the first Career and Technology Education teacher to be named to the award. She said she has been a nurse for 22 years and is a Surry Central graduate.
“I graduated on a Friday and started nursing school on Tuesday,” said Cave. She served in the labor and delivery areas of Hugh Chatham and Northern hospitals for much of her early career and later helped helped staffers at Camp E-Mun-Talee in an at-risk youth education program.
Cave explained she was inspired by Surry Central teacher Jean Ingram and had so enjoyed her high school years the transition to teacher was a natural direction for her. Cave said she started in the county schools splitting time between East Surry and Surry Central in addition to serving as trainer for the Cardinals Football Team.
“When this position (at SCHS) opened up it was something I just knew I wanted to do,” Cave said. She also credited English teacher Linda Brown for teaching her to speak out, stand up straight and be confident as part of drama classes. Cave said she realized she would love to be an inspiration to children as well.
The CTE side of her live experiences also made an impact on Cave who champions business and industry partnerships to give students real life experience outside a classroom.
“Not every kid is meant to go to college,” said Cave. “I don’t discourage this, but I feel sometimes the students who are left out are the ones who are told it’s a four-year college or nothing. My students can work with the school and Surry Community College programs and be a Certified Nursing Assistant when they graduate.”
Another goal Cave feels strongly about is inspiring students to love their school, community and encourage them to come back, with loyalty to tradition ranking high on her list. She said the TOY award is not a static honor but signals a teacher’s continuing collaboration with other TOYs.
“This is an opportunity to see what other Teachers of the Year are doing that works and bring it back to our schools,” Cave said. “I am so honored to represent Surry County, but I still have a lot of work to do.”
Principal of the Year Sandra Scott will quickly tell anyone a major part of her story and being named POY has been God’s blessings. The cancer survivor has come through the experience and gained an appreciation of the “chance to get up every morning and make a difference in the lives of people.”
Scott attended Appalachian State for two years before she met her future husband, Tim (the two have been married 33 years). A two-year hiatus followed this with Scott serving as a teacher’s assistant (TA) and attended night classes at Winston-Salem State before graduating from that school and going on to earn her Master’s from Appalachian in 2006. Scott was named to TOY honors in 2000-2001.
She has worked in a variety of positions in both Surry County and Mount Airy City schools. Scott strongly credits the support of family for every success she has enjoyed in her life and said it takes a community of staff, students and parents acting in concert with a principal to insure student’s success. She said she is a strong believer in leading by example with every single step on the way geared toward insuring children’s success.
“I have learned every day is a gift and so is working in the Surry County Schools, with Copeland staff and children,” Scott said. “This year the system’s theme of ignite the light means not just in school but for a lifetime. We have to connect with the children where they are.”
Scott said the POY community is also a collaborative group helping to make leadership more meaningful and said county principals act as a resource group for each other in spite of friendly competition between themselves. The award, for Scott, is validation of her personal mission statement which she wrote in college.
The statement stated her focus to “intervene with purpose in the lives of others with Scott giving respect to students will inspire them to return it.
“I want to inspire other people to have a dream and go for it,” Scott said. “This success is not mine. It’s all of the people who have supported me and are around me. It’s their success.”
David Broyles may be reached at 336-719-1952 or on twitter@MtAiryNewsDave.