As an educator, Katie Snyder is used to spending her days talking at the head of the class.
But standing in front of her peers at Hoggard High Tuesday, the World History and psychology teacher was, in a word, speechless.
That’s because Snyder, who thought she was meeting with her principal, had just been hit with the news that she was picked as the 2016 Southeast Region Teacher of the Year.
“I am more than surprised,” Snyder told a small crowd, which included teachers, New Hanover County Board of Education members, district officials and, most notably, her parents. “I don’t know what to say.”
Luckily, those in attendance had plenty to offer up.
“She is the epitome of a good teacher,” Hoggard principal Dr. Steve Sullivan said. “As a parent, she is the type of teacher you want your child to have. As a principal, she is what you want all your teachers to be.”
Snyder’s success may be due to a lifetime of practice at the craft. She’s no veteran–she has only been at it professionally for eight years–but Snyder said she has, in many ways, being preparing for the job since childhood.
“I’ve known since I was really little that I was going to be a teacher…My mom said I used to line up my stuffed animals and teach them,” she recalled.
It was a stellar World History teacher in ninth grade who ultimately inspired Snyder to focus on that subject in her own classroom.
Cindi Rigsbee, regional education facilitator for the N.C. Department of Public Instruction, was on hand Tuesday to deliver the announcement to Snyder, with a little help, via Skype, from current N.C. Teacher of the Year Keana Triplett.
Rigsbee said Snyder will head to Raleigh in mid-March to participate in interviews for the top state honor. Snyder was named New Hanover County Teacher of the Year in June and then competed against county-level winners in 13 southeastern counties.
As a regional winner, she will face off against nine other such contenders for the N.C. Teacher of the Year, which will be announced in May.
“I am just so proud of you,” school board member Jeanette Nichols told Snyder. “You may be one of nine in this group but you are number one here, always.”
Hilary Snow is a reporter at Port City Daily. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.