Dr. Michael Todd Parker, a social studies teacher at Salisbury High School, was named the 2021-2022 Rowan-Salisbury Teacher of the Year.
The formal announcement was made virtually on Wednesday. Parker will receive a visit from the district’s “prize patrol” during a celebratory trolley tour of schools on Thursday. School board members, district administrators, community and business partners, and the media will travel to his school via the Rowan County Convention and Visitors Bureau trolley to deliver gifts.
Parker was one of 36 teachers representing each school in the district and was one of five finalists. Dr. Tony B. Watlington, Sr., superintendent of Rowan-Salisbury Schools (RSS) made the announcement, assisted by Sally Schultz, the RSS 2020-2021 Teacher of the Year.
With the title of Teacher of the Year, Parker will receive a plaque from Rowan County Chamber of Commerce, $1,000 from Rowan Partners for Education, a round of golf for four players at the Country Club of Salisbury, a week at North Carolina Center for the Advancement of Teaching (NCCAT) plus $250 for his classroom funded by the Phillip J. Kirk Endowed Scholarship, and several other gifts from local business and community partners. Parker may receive additional gifts in the upcoming weeks.
Parker is in his 26th year as an educator. Since 2019, he has served as a social studies teacher, men’s track and field coach, and assistant athletic director at Salisbury High School. He is also on their Multi-Tiered System of Support team. He previously served as a student teacher advisor with the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, mentoring five student teachers during the 2018-2019 school year.
In addition to Parker, finalists include:
Leigh Ann Alexander, North Rowan High
Tiffany McDonald, Isenberg Elementary
Angela Ramey, China Grove Middle
Samantha Roberts, South Rowan High
Parker will move forward to compete for the title of Regional Teacher of the Year. The 2022 Burroughs Wellcome Fund North Carolina Teacher of the Year will be announced in the spring of 2022 and selected from regional winners across the state.
PRINCIPAL OF THE YEAR
Derek DiStefano, principal at Morgan Elementary School, was named the 2021-2022 Rowan-Salisbury Principal of the Year.
Superintendent Watlington made the announcement, assisted by Zebbie Bondurant, RSS 2020-2021 Principal of the Year.
DiStefano was selected from among five nominees and two finalists. In addition to DiStefano, nominees include:
Finalist Nicole Buckner, Koontz Elementary
Jennifer Warden, Rockwell Elementary
Jennifer Lentz, Southeast Middle
Stacey White, West Rowan Middle
The district’s “prize patrol” will also visit DiStefano on Thursday during a celebratory trolley tour of schools. DiStefano will receive an Isle of Palms, SC, beach vacation generously donated by Judy and Bobby McLaughlin; a round of golf for four players at the Country Club of Salisbury, and several other gifts from community and business partners.
DiStefano is in his 24th year in education, and taught second, third, and fifth grade at North Rowan Elementary School from 1997 until 2000. He served as an assistant principal before becoming principal of Morgan Elementary in 2013. Among the many accomplishments during his principalship, DiStefano led Morgan in piloting balanced literacy with a focus on guided reading, thereby improving reading proficiency at Morgan by 20 percent and impacting the entire school district’s literacy instruction. DiStefano also worked collaboratively with his teacher-led design team to create a focus on being the first school in the state to implement personalized, competency-based education for students.
DiStefano will now move forward to compete for the title of regional Principal of the Year. The 2022 Wells Fargo North Carolina Principal of the Year will be announced in the spring of 2022 and selected from regional winners across the state.