RALEIGH, N.C. – Eugenia Floyd, a fourth-grade teacher at Mary Scroggs Elementary School in the Chapel Hill-Carrboro school district, was named the 2021 Burroughs Wellcome Fund North Carolina Teacher of the Year during an awards luncheon today at the Umstead Hotel in Cary. Floyd was selected from a field of nine finalists representing the state’s eight education districts and charter schools.
Herself a product of the school district where she now teaches, Floyd began her career as an educator as a teacher assistant before earning her teaching license eight years ago and a master’s degree last year in gifted education.
Floyd says that her approach as a teacher has been shaped by her own experience as an African American student, often faced with what she saw as low expectations from her teachers.
“As a teacher, I strive to make sure my behavior and academic expectations are high for my students,” Floyd said in her Teacher of the Year submission. “I am a true believer that students will do what you expect them to do.”
She sees equity as a major goal that schools and educators must strive to achieve, and that teachers and other educators must first take steps to understand their own individual biases.
“Often in this work we forget to look in the one place that has the most impact,” Floyd said. “Ourselves. … A teacher can read books and go to as many equity trainings as possible, but nothing will change in their interactions with children if they never acknowledge their own racial bias.”
State Superintendent Catherine Truitt said that Floyd’s passion for teaching and belief in all of her students’ ability to learn exemplifies the strengths of North Carolina’s teachers across the state.
“It’s clear that Eugenia starts each day of instruction with an unwavering focus on her students and making sure that nothing gets in the way of their learning,” Truitt said. “She makes every second count.”
Crystal Epps, principal of Mary Scroggs Elementary, said in her letter recommending Floyd as Teacher of the Year that she is “an advocate for all her students, and she works tirelessly to make strides to close the achievement gap and dismantle systems and structures that operate with a fixed mindset.”
Epps also cited her experience as a teacher’s assistant, which she said Floyd attributes to her strength as a teacher. “During her time as a TA,” Epps said, “she was able to observe and embrace exemplar teaching pedagogy, which is evident in her practices today.”
Floyd has consistently exceeded high growth in both reading and math on EVAAS measures of student performance, Epps said.
Floyd succeeds the 2020 Teacher of the Year, Maureen Stover, a science teacher at Cumberland International Early College High School in Fayetteville and one of four finalists for the national Teacher of the Year. The N.C. Burroughs Wellcome Teacher of the Year is chosen by a committee of professional educators as well as business and community leaders. The state selection committee members are chosen based on their active public record in support of education.
“There is no better educator highlight or event given the circumstances of teaching and learning over the past year while facing a global pandemic,” said Dr. Lou Muglia, president and CEO of the Burroughs Wellcome Fund. “Each of the outstanding regional Teachers of the Year represent the very best in public education and a commitment to ensuring success by all students.”
Alfred Mays, director and chief strategist for diversity and STEM education with the Burroughs Wellcome Fund, said “we look forward to supporting and working very closely with the new North Carolina Teacher of the Year and team as they seek to lead various initiatives over the next year.”
Floyd began working as a teachers’ assistant after earning a bachelor’s degree in history from UNC Greensboro, and during her last two years as a TA, she earned her teaching credential from N.C. Central University. Her master’s degree in gifted education is from Elon University.
In her classroom, Floyd teaches a unit focusing on social issues to help her students connect with the world around them. She facilitates discussions about their own experiences, such as bullying, an injustice which they may have witnessed happening to others, to broader societal issues such as racism and sexism.
“Not only do I want to make sure I teach my students material that can connect to the world around us,” she said, “but I also want them to be able to use what they have learned in order to make themselves and the world a better place. … When students are able to connect to their lives and world around them, learning will most definitely happen and stick.”
Outside the classroom, Floyd created a neighborhood tutoring project that started within her classroom for students who needed more time to master various reading and math skills, and it later evolved into an effort that took her into the apartment complexes where some of her students live.
She said she would pack her car with a clipboard, math manipulatives, paper and pencils and meet students as they got off the bus and let them know that she was available to help them. She would help them with their homework or to prepare for end-of-grade tests.
“Going into these three neighborhoods, one each day, once a week, allowed me not only to work with my own students, but also to work with students across grade levels, sometimes even middle schoolers,” she said.
As with other regional finalists, Floyd was first recognized this school year as teacher of the year at her school and district.
As Teacher of the Year, she will spend the next school year traveling the state as an ambassador for the teaching profession as supported by Burroughs Wellcome Fund and the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction.
Floyd will receive the use during her period of service a new vehicle, leased from Flow Automotive, LLC, the opportunity to attend a seminar at the NC Center for the Advancement of Teaching (NCCAT), a mobile device from Lenovo valued at approximately $1,600, an engraved vase, a one-time cash award of $7,500, a trip to the National Teacher of the Year Conference and International Space Camp, a prize pack and opportunity to be honored during a football game from NC State Athletics, support from No Kid Hungry NC, a one-time cash award of $2,000 from Bojangles and the opportunity to travel abroad through an endowment sponsored by Go Global NC.
Floyd also will serve as an advisor to the State Board of Education for two years and as a board member for the NC Public School Forum for one year.
The other regional finalists were:
- Northeast: Jennifer Attkisson, White Oak Elementary, Edenton-Chowan Schools
- Southeast: Jennifer Bryan, South Brunswick High School, Brunswick County Schools
- Sandhills: Nicole Rivers, Gray’s Creek High School, Cumberland County Schools
- Piedmont Triad: Kelly Poquette, E.M. Yoder Elementary, Alamance-Burlington School System
- Southwest: Cecelia Sizoo-Roberson, Piedmont IB Middle School (Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools)
- Northwest: Erin Ellington, Mabel School (Watauga County Schools)
- West: Susanna Cerrato, Ira B. Jones Elementary (Asheville City Schools)
- Charter schools: Jeremy White, West Lake Preparatory Academy
North Carolina has recognized outstanding teachers through its Teacher of the Year program since 1970. For more information on North Carolina’s Teacher of the Year recognition program, visit the program’s website. You also can follow the North Carolina Teacher of the Year finalists on Twitter at #NCTOYPOY
MEDIA CONTACT: NCDPI Communication and Information Division at (984) 236-2100