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Students succeeding

Meet Deborah Sousa, North Rowan’s High School Teacher of the Year 2019-20

Anthony Johnson

Meet Deborah Sousa, North Rowan’s High School Teacher of the Year 2019-20

Susan Shinn Turner

Deborah Sousa is the perfect person to teach health sciences at North Rowan High

School. Before coming here 23 years ago, Sousa was a nurse.

“I happened to hit a spell when I changed from one job to another and it wouldn’t work

with my kids’ schedules,” says Sousa, North’s Teacher of the Year for 2019-2020.

Sousa says of her second career, “Truthfully, I just love it. What I teach is so much fun.”

Sousa teaches students in health sciences all four years of their high school careers. “I get

to see them evolve. I get to see them mature. It is so wonderful.”

Not only has she seen students change, she’s seen the school change. “We are focused on

getting kids what they need to find their passions. You gotta do what you like.”

Still, Sousa, who graduated from North in 1977, took a substantial pay cut to return to her

alma mater, she says. Her two aunts, Norma Small Byerly and Martha Haynes, went here

in the early 1960s, and both daughters, Ashley Overcash and Brittany Durham, are North


Overcash teaches kindergarten at Granite Quarry Elementary, where she’s also Teacher

of the Year.

Sousa says it’s an honor to have been named Teacher of the Year. “If you walk the halls

here, you will see teachers teaching their hearts out.”

She sees former students who have gone into nursing, pharmacy, medicine, and social


“Our reward is seeing students succeed,” she notes. “If you get out of my class, you will

have worked. I’m not easy.”

But she had one student tell her, “I really hate to tell you, but I could not have made it

through my college courses without you.”

She adds, “It’s not easy out there. Once you get out of these walls in Fantasy Land, it’s


At North, Sousa teaches health sciences I and II and nursing fundamentals. Students can

then take classes at Rowan-Cabarrus Community College.

Away from school, she says, “I like to read and I like to garden — all those Southern