If ever there has been a year to award the honor, Teacher of the Year, this is it.

With our educators learning to adapt from traditional classrooms to virtual settings as the state’s remote learning mandate stays in place through the end of the year, teachers have had to shift not only content and materials, but the very way they instruct without the ability to face their students in a classroom.

This week is Teacher and School Staff Appreciation Week, and as parents take an ever-increasing role in their child’s schooling, the value we place on our educators is even more apparent than it has been in the past. Because of this recognition, this year Teacher of the Year means just a little bit more.

In this edition of your Watauga Democrat we highlight the achievements of all of our educators, but especially those who have been recognized and singled-out by their peers for the top honor at each of our schools.

Today we take the opportunity to thank all of our teachers and staff for meeting the tremendous challenges they have had this year in educating our children, with special recognition to Chelsie Eldreth from Bethel, Angela Watson from Blowing Rock, Leslie Hall from Cove Creek, Tara Watson from Green Valley, Elizabeth Hutelmyer from Hardin Park, Erin Ellington from Mabel, Sydney Sieviec from Parkway, Leslie Howser from Valle Crucis and Hunter Lloyd from Watauga High School — our Teachers of the Year.

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