Anyea Gibson's reflections as Teacher of the Year

Anyea Gibson's reflections as Teacher of the Year
Posted on 05/15/2021

It is hard to believe that the 2020-2021 school year is coming to an end, and my time as Hickory Public Schools Teacher of the Year is in the final days. This year has been a roller coaster ride to say the least. As soon as one hurdle was cleared, another popped up unexpectedly. So many new ideas, rules, expectations, programs, and jobs were created not only because of the pandemic, but because of the current situations in the world. A fellow colleague asked me if I thought my time as HPS Teacher of the Year was not as special as previous years due to the pandemic. I did not answer her then, but I thought about that question all day. I finally decided that my time as Teacher of the Year could not have come at a better time in my life; as well as the lives of my students. 

Being the HPS Teacher of the Year allowed me to attend roundtable meetings to be the voice for so many teachers, not only in my district, but all over North Carolina. I was blessed to meet with dignitaries from the White House and Raleigh who could take my suggestions back to Washington and our state Capitol. But the most important benefit of being Teacher of the Year this particular year was my ability to voice my opinion as a teacher who happens to also be a Black woman, on matters that focused on children of color, as well as students who fall through the cracks of the present educational system in the United States. Throughout this entire wonderful time in my life I never lost focus as to why or who I was doing this for; my students. 

This year has taught me that providing instruction is and will always be the easy part; the challenging part is gaining the respect of my students as well as their families. This year has devastated a lot of families. What little trust they had in others, especially people outside of their circle, was lost. Being able to break through that wall of distrust and skepticism was a goal I set for myself this year. In a world full of uncertainty and sadness, being the one constant role model and advocate for their child, MY babies, was more important than any test the state could ever give. Letting my students see me get frustrated and stumble while navigating the crazy world of remote teaching allowed them to see that I too am learning and making mistakes along the way. It opened up discussions for us about life’s uncertainties and that no matter what curve balls life can throw your way, through hard work, determination, perseverance, and a support system, all things are possible. Although this year started out unlike any other year, I know my kids have not only learned academically, but they learned valuable life skills that will allow them to be better citizens in their community and better students within the classroom.

Needless to say the ending of this year will not go as I had planned. There will not be field day, a traditional 5th grade graduation, or any other exciting celebration that comes along at the end of the year. As teachers, we are taught from day one to be flexible, and the past two years have been the ultimate test. The past two years have also caused me to rethink my teaching style and pedagogy. I have a new list of personal life priority goals as well as aspirations of creating and implementing new policies and programs that will support ALL students of color and close the ever widening educational gap of particular demographics in schools. I thank God everyday for this amazing opportunity. His timely blessing made me a better teacher, friend, and colleague in more ways than one. Words cannot explain how thankful I am for the love and support I received from my amazing family and friends. I would also like to thank the wonderful people at Mike Johnson Toyota for providing me with the stylish 2021 Camry to drive throughout this year. A special thank you to Ms. Beverly Snowden and Jeff Hodakowski for the many encouraging words provided to me this year. Lastly I want to thank my awesome fifth grade teammates Caitlin Norton and Erin Irvin for having my back so many times. I am extremely excited to see what God has in store for my future. I will always be thankful for the love and support of Viewmont Elementary School and Hickory Public Schools.  

Anyea Gibson

2020-2021 Hickory Public Schools

Teacher of the Year

As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace” ~1Peter 4:10
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