HAMLET — When Lakresha Sibley was chosen to be Richmond County’s Teacher of the Year during the 2016 Convocation at the Cole Auditorium Thursday, she said she was surprised.
The Hamlet Middle School teacher knew that she shared the potential for being selected with 15 teachers from the other schools across the county — all of whom had been named Teacher of the Year at their respective schools. But competition for the top honor is rigorous.
Ashley-Michelle Thublin, the district’s information officer, asked Sibley how it feels being Teacher of the Year.
“I’m just so thankful,” Sibley said. “Hard work really paid off, but I really don’t know what to say. I’m just thankful to my students, thankful to my principals, Mr. (Jim) Butler, Ms. (Karen) Allen, Rob Ransom, Michelle Burns. I’m just so thankful for this moment.”
Sibley, who has been an educator for 10 years, has worked eight of those years at Hamlet Middle School. Most recently, Sibley served as the eighth-grade science teacher there. She explained that what she most enjoys about being a teacher are the relationships built throughout the school year.
“Like, at the first of the school year, when the students first come into the school and are really nervous and they really don’t know you,” she said. “But by the end of the year, they say, ‘No, we don’t want to go to the Ninth-Grade Academy. We want to stay here with you.’ So definitely, building that team work and that relationship among the students and myself.”
Thublin asked what Sibley is most looking forward to this school year.
“Just learning them, learning their personalities,” Sibley said. “Learning their way of learning and just getting in there and having fun.”
Sibley will have the opportunity to go up against other regional top teachers, and if she makes it to the next step, will compete at the state level.
And of course, she’ll be driving a new car, sponsored by Griffin Toyota. Last year, Griffin General Manager Scott Altman explained to the Daily Journal how the car voucher works.
“She’ll get to come out and choose a car,” Altman said. “Any kind she likes, and she’ll get to drive it for free for a whole year.”
Last year’s Teacher of the Year was Valeria Joy Watson, a third-grade teacher at East Rockingham Elementary School.
Reach reporter Melonie McLaurin at 910-817-2673 and follow her on Twitter @meloniemclaurin.