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New Teacher, Familiar Face

After Granite Quarry Elementary School (GQES) students have breakfast, the staff asks, “What is your good thing today?” Everyone starts off on a positive note.

New teacher Grace Fulbright is going to be that good thing for her students and colleagues.

She loves working with young children and will teach kindergarten. Her mother, Amy Stokes, has been teaching at GQES for 33 years. Fulbright went to Granite Quarry Elementary and grew up and still lives in Granite Quarry with her husband, Nathan.

A graduate of the University of North Carolina at Charlotte (UNCC), she has degrees in public health and health care administration. While educating people about dementia awareness, she found out how much she loved teaching.

“The first night I had class, it was about dementia awareness; I fell in love with it, loved being up there next to a whiteboard, passing out pamphlets, talking to people. Then I thought about teaching and turned my vision into education,” Fulbright said.

She went back to UNCC and was licensed to teach birth through kindergarten.

GQES Principal April Spry hired Grace as a pre-K assistant first.

“After interviewing Grace, my team and I wholeheartedly believed she was the right person for the work. Her smile was authentic, her passion for children was extraordinarily clear, and her drive to continue growing and learning was genuine and strong. She was changing directions in her life after having settled into her career because she knew she was meant to make a difference in the lives of children,” Spry said.​​

Fulbright wants to give her students hands-on activities and real-world experiences through things like field trips.

“We’ll study animals in class and maybe take a field trip to the zoo,” she said. “I can’t wait to see their faces light up about learning and then get the real-life experience.”

Growing up, Fulbright often visited her mother in her classrooms.

“She’s so energetic, so open to new ideas,” says Stokes. “There are no words to express my joy and pride. I’m going to be her colleague and her peer, and at times, her mom.”

Spry says Fulbright is a role model for students every day and that she’s grateful to have her on staff at GQES.

“Grace goes above and beyond to meet the needs of those around her, all with a genuine attitude of gratitude,” she added.

Fulbright wants to make a difference. “I’m teaching them to be a great person, but also skills that will be useful next year. With every roster, I want to be able to do that.”

She understands children are anxious and can feel overwhelmed, but plans to take one day at a time.

“I will come to work every day, be there, and love those kids, make sure they know someone does care for them and appreciate them. That does huge things inside and outside of school. That’s your foundation.”


By Dierdre Parker Smith, for Rowan-Salisbury Schools