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2020-21 Beginning Teacher of the Year & Principal of the Year

China Grove Middle School teacher Makenna Pate is the 2020-21 Rowan-Salisbury Beginning Teacher of the Year, and Shive Elementary School principal Zebbie Bondurant is the 2020-21 Rowan-Salisbury Principal of the Year.

RSS Superintendent Dr. Lynn Moody named the new Beginning Teacher of the Year and Principal of the Year during a district-wide virtual celebration. She was assisted by Corriher-Lipe Middle School teacher Jessie Peterson, the district’s 2019-20 Beginning Teacher of the Year, and Knollwood Elementary School principal Shonda Hairston, the district’s 2019-20 Principal of the Year.

Makenna Pate 

Beginning Teacher of the Year Makenna Pate

Makenna Pate is a second year English Language Arts teacher at China Grove Middle School. She was selected from 10 nominees across the district. In addition to Pate, the following nominees were recognized and honored: 

1.     Ashlyn Brooke Coley                                                    Erwin Middle art teacher

2.    Krystal Johnson                                                             Hanford Dole Elementary first grade teacher

3.    Jonathan Rich                                                                Jesse Carson High ninth grade English teacher

4.    Blair Miller                                                                      Knox Middle seventh and eighth grade EC teacher

5.    Kelda Gehrig                                                                  Koontz Elementary third grade teacher

6.    Taylor Breeland                                                              North Rowan High biology teacher

7.     Leah Huggins                                                                Salisbury High English teacher

8.    Allison Sobataka                                                            West Rowan High ninth and tenth grade biology and earth & environmental science teacher

9.    Shelbi Joyner                                                                 West Rowan Middle EC math teacher

Pate’s parents joined the Zoom meeting to surprise their daughter during the celebration, as well as China Grove Middle principal Dr. Rikki Baldwin.

Judges for the Beginning Teacher of the Year competition were Rowan-Salisbury Board of Education member Alisha Byrd-Clark, along with RSS 2019-20 Beginning Teacher of the Year Jessie Peterson, Donna Seaford from the State Employees Credit Union, Kelli Antonides from Career & College Promise, and Kelly Lowman from Rowan-Cabarrus Community College.

Zebbie Bondurant

Principal of the Year Zebbie Bondurant

Zebbie Bondurant has 36 years of experience in education, with 13 of those years serving as principal of Shive. Bondurant began her career in education as a school bus driver. As her career progressed, she served as a teacher assistant, mentor, teacher and assistant principal.

Bondurant was selected from a slate of seven nominees across the district. In addition to Bondurant, the following principal nominees were recognized and honored:

1.     Benjamin Crawford                                                        Jesse Carson High

2.    Nicole Buckner                                                               Koontz Elementary

3.    Derek DiStefano                                                             Morgan Elementary

4.    Dr. Katherine Bryant                                                       North Rowan Elementary

5.    Jennifer Lentz                                                                Southeast Middle

6.    Dr. Jamie Durant                                                            West Rowan High


As a surprise, Bondurant’s family joined the Zoom celebration, as well as Shive Elementary assistant principal Scotty Adcock.

Judges for the Principal of the Year competition were Rowan-Salisbury Board of Education member Jean Kennedy, along with 2019-20 Principal of the Year Shonda Hairston, Jon Allen from Carolina Family Church and Dr. Kim Creamer from Catawba College.

Both Pate and Bondurant will now move forward to the regional competition for their respective titles.

Dr. Moody concluded the afternoon event by congratulating the winners and extending thanks and appreciation to Belk, Debbie Barnhardt Jewelers and Koco Java for providing gifts to this year’s Principal and Beginning Teacher of the Year.