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JFK Pharm Tech Teacher Earns CTE Teacher of the Year Nod
March 24, 2023 – Health Sciences Teacher Sarah Shepard from John F. Kennedy High School is Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools’ choice for 2023 CTE Teacher of the Year.
The North Carolina Center for the Advancement of Teaching recognizes a different educator in career and technical education fields each year who has gone above and beyond to further the mission of preparing students for high-skill, high-demand, and high-paying jobs. Finalists in the selection process receive a one-year membership in the North Carolina Association for Career and Technical Education and free participation in NCCAT’s professional development program. The winning teacher, who will be selected in the summer, will receive two additional years of membership, instructional supply funds for their school, participation in the national Association for Career and Technical Education Conference, and a $5,000 cash prize.
Shepard has been teaching for the past 20 years and worked as a pharmacy technician before that, but her teaching career actually started with English. Becoming a CTE teacher gave her the opportunity to combine two things she was good at and put students on the path to a career that she knew first-hand how to succeed in. Her pharmacy technician program at JFK has already produced new young pharmacy technicians who are thriving in their careers.
“I have never seen another teacher with a higher success rate in students obtaining credentials, scoring proficiency and mastery on final state exams,” said Deborah Cochran, Career Development Coordinator at JFK. “Mrs. Shepard is a top talent and provides opportunities for students to be successful with a focus on mastery of learning and a high level of engagement.”
Working in pharmaceuticals is a challenging career path that involves a lot of math, customer service, and strenuous attention to detail. These are all difficult traits to hone, particularly in teenagers, but the work is essential to a functioning society, and especially in the fallout of COVID-19, more qualified employees are needed. Shepard’s commitment to her students’ improvement is going to make them indispensable members of their future communities.
“Success in this type of environment means a teacher must stay committed to core instructional values, must invest in long-range planning, must be creative in developing new ways to teach reluctant students, must support their colleagues who work with struggling students, and must remain steadfast in working towards overall school improvement,” JFK Principal Dr. William Wynn said. “Sarah Shepard exemplifies these values and demonstrates personal strength and character in her daily interactions with all stakeholders.”
Shepard is honored to have been chosen to represent the district, but her focus remains on enriching her students. She’s already seen former students become some of her most trusted coworkers as she works part-time with Novant Health. If she can see a significant portion of her current students follow suit, that’s how she’ll know best that she’s a great CTE teacher.
“A big part of why I teach is so I can see my students achieve whatever it is in life that they want to accomplish and know that I had a piece in getting them there,” Shepard said. “I want to see them succeed.”
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