She's passionate. She has the power to teach and inspire students. And she always takes time to spread cheer to her co-workers. Who is she? Maggie Daniels — Newton-Conover City Schools' 2011-12 Teacher of the Year.
"I'm completely humbled and appreciative to be here," Daniels said, during Thursday's Teacher of the Year banquet at Newton-Conover High School.
Daniels teaches English at NCHS, where she started her career five years ago after graduating from Notre Dame University. To Daniels, she's doing more than teaching; she's following her heart's desires.
"I believe teaching is a calling by God," Daniels said. "Teaching is my life's dreams fully fulfilled."
Daniels said she felt a calling on her life to teach, and it was her grandfather who pushed her to reach for the stars and be who she was created to become.
"I moved (to North Carolina) not knowing anyone," Daniels said. "Five years later, I can call Newton-Conover High School my home."
Daniels received $1,000 for her classroom and an apple paperweight. Each teacher nominated for the Teacher of the Year award received books for their classrooms.
During Thursday's banquet, NCCS officials recognized eight teachers — one from each of its schools.
"These are quality people," said NCCS Superintendent Dr. Barry Redmond. "These folks make a difference in the lives of children."
Redmond said NCCS' goal is to change its students, but to reach beyond the children and into their lives and families.
"We try to change generational habits," Redmond said. "They are the salvation of children in our community."
In addition to naming a Teacher of the Year, NCCS also awards a first year Teacher of the Year. Cierra Winstead, a fourth-grade teacher Shuford Elementary School, was this year's winner for a starting teacher.
"Newton-Conover does a great job helping teachers," Winstead said, as tears fell down her face.
Winstead received $500 for her classroom and books to start her library for students.
Also recognized was Principal of the Year Tammy Brown, of Thornton Elementary School. Brown has been with NCCS for 15 years and was a product of a school district grant when she was hired.
"I care about people ... that's who I am," Brown said. "I do the job because I enjoy it."
Outgoing Teacher of the Year Donna Schronce shared a few words with her co-workers and guests at the banquet as she prepared to pass the torch to another deserving teacher.
"I am filled with a lot of joy and gratitude," Schronce said. "Being Newton-Conover Teacher of the Year is a privilege. You and I, as educators, have the ability to empower our students to change the world."
Schronce said her value as 2010-11 Teacher of the Year didn't only come from creating knowledgeable students, but impacting lives of teachers. By speaking a teacher events, Schronce said she was asked to share her classroom philosophy with other teachers who wanted to create a unified environment for students.
"It's a greatest accomplishment and comes with a sense of value," she said.
NCCS Board of Education Chairman Scott Loudermelt thanked the teachers and administration at Thursday's event for building up a generation of children to lead Catawba County.
"As a parent of two students (in NCCS), I know you are doing your best every day," Loudermelt said.